Tuesday, September 14, 2004

And Music Longings
Please remember that the "Longings" sidehead is a place for my music habit. I decided at the outset of the year that I would get two discs a month. I could easily spend $100 a month on music I want but then I'd have to buy a 40gig iPod as well. So for budgetary and sanity reasons I limit myself to two discs a month and I try to blog them as well. This month I have acquired Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Between Here and Gone" and Christine Collister's "The Dark Gift of Time."
I am a huge Mary Chapin Carpenter fan. I've seen her play live only a couple of times and currently own only a few of her discs but I could listen to her sing forever. There is a depth to her tonal quality that is not the pitch but a resonance, possibly just something that reaches an echo in me. Of course she is a marvelous songwriter (does
anyone not know that? -Ed) which doesn't hurt. But the current disc is the subject at hand. I was introduced to it by hearing the song "Elysium" on Radio Io Acoustic. I was mesmerized. It is a beautiful song, lyrically engaging and, well, just downright gorgeous. But I did wonder if the rest of the songs were as good. I have bought a disc on the basis of one song and been left regretting the impulse (cough, cough, Harvey Danger cough, cough). Still, I pursued Jake Armerding after hearing one song on Radio Io and MCC is a better-known commodity than Jake so.... I have the album. I have ripped it into iTunes, downloaded it to my iPod and burned a copy for play in the car. This is a wonderful disc. I won't dissect every song as that would be just tedious so let me just say that "Elysium" is the best song in the collection. The others are fantastic as well. Just not as good. If you, like my gummint lawyer friend Bill, only like songs with bitchin' guitar solos, then don't get this CD. If you tend to like Mary Chapin Carpenter, then you really should own it.

Secondarily, though first in the linkage, is Christine Collister's "The Dark Gift of Time." I don't know how well known she is but she has a wonderful alto voice (this being said by one who tends to like women who sing in higher pitches - "whiny Canadian chick singer-songwriters" being a peculiar fave). She writes only some of the material she records which is not a drawback. Her 1994 live album has a version of Joni Mitchell's "Shades of Scarlett Conquering" which is the only cover I've heard that can even come close to the original. And she does a great take on Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" on that disc.

"Dark Gift of Time" is good. Unfortunately, not as good as her 2002 CD "Into the Light" which features her own "Ashlands" and a very good take on U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." This sounds like damning with faint praise which is not the impression I want to convey. I like "Light" better than I do "Gift" but I am delighted to own both. Perhaps it's a peculiarity of mine but when I like an artist, I want to get all of his/her/their recorded output. I'm a fan of Christine Collister, no doubt. However, if you're new to her, listen to "Into the Light" as your first taste. I think you'll be a fan too.

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