Archives for posts with tag: music

I stumbled across this video on YouTube and found it stunning. I’m not familiar with the musician, but like the song. It’s the combination of the song and the visual that is so riveting, though. The also unfamiliar actress is phenomenal. So still. Spare. Stoic for so long and then the breaking of determination into despair. It makes you hurt to watch her face, body language, and progression of emotion. Such a stunning production. In a few brief minutes, it becomes unforgettable.

Keaton Henson–You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are

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There’s not a lot to say about this singer songwriter, because not much is known. He’s chosen to keep himself in the dark. Literally, at times, in shadowy profile. That’s the way he’s presented, in the acoustic video of Someday Soon one of the two songs he’s released so far. Apparently, he’s in a famous band and will do a reveal eventually.

In the meantime, what I can say is that he has an incredible voice. I bought the song and like it, but not as much as I love the acoustic video. In the acoustic version, he’s a total belter, with a grit and growl to the held notes that gives him a unique and intriguing sound that’s unforgettable. It makes you want to hear it again. Then again. And more.

I’m looking forward to finding out who it is. I want to guess it’s Dave Grohl, because it would be such a departure. I love Dave and Foo Fighters, but that silhouette just isn’t right…..

Wilder Woods Someday Soon Acoustic

The Greatest Showman is the best musical I’ve seen in a long time. Granted, I’m a bit late to be just discovering it, but the concept of better late than never certainly applies. The best thing about this movie is that I loved the story, and then the music wouldn’t let go to the point that I went straight to YouTube and watched videos of my favorite songs that also happened to be favorite moments. Fortunately, I recently got an unlimited data plan. Somehow, these songs work best when watching the actors’ performances while listening.

The one that lingered so intensely that it drove me to YouTube initially was Jenny Lind singing Never Enough. An incredibly beautiful song, it also tells a powerful story of momentary intimacy and the extended longing it can bring. Rebecca Ferguson’s performance was remarkable. I usually skim comments, because I pick up information that way. Of course, what’s read there may be true or not, but what I found out about Never Enough was fascinating. First, that she was lip synching. Astonishing. Such emotion and grace and intensity…impossible to fake, one would think. Ah ha! It turns out that the actual gorgeous voice belongs to Loren Allred. According to bits of information scattered throughout the comments, Rebecca Ferguson was filmed actually singing the song with a recording of Allred, then sound and visual were seamlessly merged to create such an unforgettable moment. Rebecca Ferguson’s talent and selfless dedication to her craft made what might seem impossible to a layman come vividly alive on that magical, and now more and more metaphorical, silver screen. I prefer a clip that was edited like a music video that tells the story behind the song. Oddly, someone commented on her neck looking scary as she sings. I hadn’t noticed, but then I couldn’t not notice it looking as if she was about to transform into an alien creature. Eventually, it just becomes part of the viewing experience and not so prominent. It even adds an extra bit of cool factor over time.

I do mean over time.

The word obsession comes into play when music hits me just right. I watched Never Enough videos enough for it to qualify as both ear worm and eye worm! And This Is Me, as well. Keala Settle was amazing as the Bearded Lady. She carried that role like a second skin and sang fearlessly, with great beauty. She evoked empathy, admiration, and acceptance, with an anthem for those who are different in the world. A march for the downtrodden, This Is Me was choreographed like an marvelous music video from decades past. When the ensemble of characters joins her as a perfectly synced dance crew, it’s Thriller meets Beauty and the Beast. I love the fierce, joyous nature of it, accompanied by the percussion of hands and feet. This song too tells its own story and won’t be dislodged from its place in the soundtrack’s glorious irresistibility.

It took me a while to remember the beautiful Rewrite the Stars, sung by Zendaya and Zac Efron. Another masterpiece; this one more subtle and understated, thoughtful and outright romantic. Once I tracked down the video, I was again captivated by both the song and performance. The way it blends not only the danger of the trapeze work but also the grace and elegance of the ropes makes it seem magical, though the magic is underlaid with a rich patina of dispair and tragedy. Beautiful performances, by more incredibly talented actors.

The Greatest Showman as a whole would have always interested me, with its bigger than life story based on real life, particularly in the historical period in which it happened. It was made more fascinating to me, however, by the fact that I had watched the PBS documentary Circus last year. I was enthralled by the great spectacle of P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth, as well as awed by the myriad of tragedies and setbacks he endured. That he still succeeded as stunningly as he did seems almost miraculous. Multiple fires and mishaps destroyed his dream time after time, yet he always rebuilt, reimagined, and was reborn as a man who could entertain the world and scatter joy among even common folks wherever he traveled. When he lost his venue, the tents he used to replace it were mindbogglingly huge, seating tens of thousands of people desperate for the rare escape from mundane life. The logistics of the travel alone, when he took his massive show on the road, seemed impossible. P. T. Barnum apparently did not recognize the very idea of impossibility and the world at large was the better for it.

Never Enough:

This Is Me:

Rewrite the Stars:

It had been a while since Cat Power released a new album. I’ve been a fan since way back to Myra Lee and Moonpix, so I was thrilled to find Wanderer among Amazon’s New Releases.

I’ve enjoyed the different styles she’s used over the years. There were aspects of the earliest that I loved, especially her lyrics, but the songs were pretty raw and a bit slow for my taste. Her later efforts were more polished and uptempo, and I liked them all.

Now, along comes Wanderer. This new album carries reminders of Myra Lee and Moonpix, but is more accessible. It is a beautiful combination of polished melodies and lyrics, even as it echoes Cat Powers’ earlier work. My favorite track is Robbin Hood. For me, it carries the best of all of her music.

Cat Power Performing Robbin Hood

​Aimee Mann is one of my all time favorite singer songwriters. According to my taste and experience, she’s never done any bad music. I didn’t discover her until her solo career, but enjoy her ‘Til Tuesday days too. The combination of her voice, lyrics, and melodies has run through my mind like a stream moving as fast as she can produce albums. 

Some music inspires my fiction way more than the rest. Aimee Mann’s has been known to help me generate plot almost faster than I can keep up with it. Some of the best scenes I’ve ever written are connected to her work on the Magnolia Soundtrack and most of all, Bachelor No. 2, or the Last Remains of the Dodo. The latter is my favorite of her albums, and Mental Illness reminds me of it quite a bit. Drenched in strings that are the perfect companions to guitar and piano, Mental Illness is lavishly melodic. She also displays her wonderful ability with often subtle vocal acrobatics. 

Mental Illness strikes me as Dodo’s charming older sister. Containing several waltzes and her usual complex lyrics, this album is amazing and quickly became the kind of thing I have to keep listening to at odd moments. Especially when the unusual, catchy, and beautiful Goose Snow Cone pops into my head. I looked up what it’s about. Turns out Goose is a cat she knows, who also stars in the sweet video. This one is going to keep me listening, as I wait for whatever comes next from Aimee Mann.

While impatiently waiting for Amazon to make the MP3 of Chantal Kreviazuk’s new album Hard Sail available, I decided to trawl YouTube to check out the songs on it. I came across this must see, must hear treasure for people who have never heard of her and fans alike.

Chantal Kreviazuk is a Canadian singer songwriter I first discovered in the days when brick and mortar CD stores roamed the earth in vast herds. One of my favorite passtimes was buying music at random, though sometimes on the advice of store clerks who thought I was cool because I spoke their music language. The day I took home Under These Rocks and Stones I instantly fell in love with her voice, her lyrics, and her melodies. Music inspires my writing in ways almost symbiotic and Chantal Kreviazuk’s has been a fixture in that inspiration stream from the moment I heard Surrounded on the above mentioned CD. That makes having to wait out Amazon’s Canadian music lag especially irksome.

In the meantime this gorgeous, intimate Strombo Sessions performance is almost as wonderful as a studio album, since I love the nuanced subtleties of live performance. The set list only includes three songs, two from Hard Sail and a Radiohead cover, but it is so awesome it feels like a longer private concert. This live performance showcases the fact that she’s a classically trained pianist, and the beautiful cello accompaniment adds a haunting note, even evoking the sound of humpback whalesong during Daydreaming. This Strombo Sessions performance is such a treat, as I wait for the new album from one of the singer songwriters I’ve loved the longest.

Chantal Kreviazuk on Strombo Sessions

Any time there’s even a hint of a new anything by Australian singer-songwriter Paul Dempsey, I wait in breathless anticipation for a release date, a potential live performance to show up on YouTube, and then the release itself. This year the wait has been for his new solo album Strange Loop. As always, it was worth the wait.

The Something for Kate, also known as SFK, front man has been one of my favorite…everything to do with modern music…people for a long, long time. An Aussie friend got me hooked on SFK, and Dempsey’s amazing talents took it from there. Not only a gifted singer, he also writes deep and thoughtful songs and is one of the best guitarists I’ve heard.

Somehow, the combination of his mesmerizing voice and the songs he crafts have a soothing effect on me. Listening to his music can actually lull me to sleep, which is quite a feat considering my insomniacal tendencies. I affectionately call the welcome result of this power Dempsolepsy, meant entirely as a compliment. It seems to only be certain songs that carry this ability. Most notably Man of the Moment and Out the Airlock, from his first solo album Everything Is True, but Strange Loop as a whole can manage it at times. This perk of being a Paul Dempsey fan makes me love his music even more. I mean, what can be better than for an insomniac to fall asleep to music they love?

Strange Loop is different from Everything Is True, just as the most recent SFK album Leave Your Soul To Science is different from all that came before. All their albums are wonderful, in their own way. Dempsey’s three standalones (the two aforementioned and his covers album Shotgun Karaoke) are individuals, just as siblings are individual members of the same family. The thread that runs through them all is Dempsey’s
brilliance.

The True Sea is my favorite track from Strange Loop. The chorus has been on a loop in my head for days. In a broader sense the entire album is my favorite track from the album. There’s a soaring depth of intellect here that echoes throughout Dempsey’s body of work. It makes me think and sing and look forward to what’s next, even as I continue to discover nuances of what’s now. This is not the kind of album that would be easy to try to give rating stars, because this is the kind of music that brings the real stars of the night sky to mind.

The True Sea by Paul Dempsey