Wednesday, May 02, 2007

CD Review: Feist: The Reminder

Feist is a Canadian singer/songwriter with roots in both the east coast and the west, and the 2005 new artist of the year Juno winner. Her new album, The Reminder, is her third studio album, and first since the Juno winning Let it Die, was released yesterday. Recorded in a 200 year old Parisian manor, The Reminder has been called a "beautifully whimsical collection of luxuriant pop about love." So many adjectives, how did they miss eclectic?

Feist has one of those lovely soprano pop voices that works well in folksy acoustic artists. Fortunately, Feist doesn't contain her talent in folksy acoustic music. The second song I Feel It All, lets you know that. After the slow, breezy, jazzy So Sorry, I Feel It All comes on hard with a solid acoustic pop song. The acoustic is then eschewed altogether for the funky, bassy My Moon, My Man.

It is, actually, the fourth song by the time we get an acoustic song, the truly lovely The Park. With birds chirping in the background (real birds, by my understanding) this is a pretty ballad:

Why would he come back through the park
You thought that you saw him, but no you did not
It's not him coming across the sea to surprise you
Not him who would know where in London to find you

Sadness so real that it populates
The city and leaves you homeless again
Steam from a cup and snow on the path
The seasons have changed from the present to past

The past...
There's hope to have
In the past...
Lovelily poetic, beautifully sung and a simple guitar plus a spartan arrangement. The Park is a wonderful piece of music.

Feist follows up The Park with a slower, keyboard based ballad, The Water. And so it goes, another song, another tempo, another style: Nina Simone's Sea lion Woman has an African hand-clapping rhythm throughout; The lively, countried up, slide guitar based Past and Present; The Limit To Your Love, over arranged pop, lush, bold and gorgeous; The hit, 1234, pure pop wonderfully done.

Feist moves effortlessly through different styles and instrumentations handily each with confidence and skill. This is a lively, wonderful CD that should be on every music lovers list.

You can hear for yourself and sample before you buy at her myspace site:

4 out of 5.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

CD Review: Michael Bublé: Call Me Irresponsible

Burnaby singer Michael Bublé's 8th studio CD, Call Me Irresponsible, runs hot and cold. When he's doing what he does well, singing Jazz standards, it is a very good CD. When, however, he lets himself out of his element, the CD suffers. The opening track, The Best is Yet to Come, promises better but doesn't deliver, as this is probably the CD best track. Me and Mrs. Jones and I'm your Man are other early songs that work well.

It is when the title track, Call Me Irresponsible comes up that the CD starts to fall apart. Bublé doesn't, to my ear, take this standard seriously, singing what sounds like a smirking version of the Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen song. Bublé's good, but if Sinatra can take this song seriously, I fail to see how he's above the task.

Bublé follows up Call Me Irresponsible with a truly terrible duet of Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight with Ivan Lins. It not only fails to deliver a reasonable accounting of an otherwise beautiful piece, but it also falls into, and out of, another language, presumably Lins' native Brazillian. Either way it's an abomination and drags the CD down terribly.

Again, follow up doesn't help, as Bublé follows Wonderful Tonight with another pop sounding piece, Everything. Rod Stewart proved that rockers should stay away from the crooner's songs, and Bublé returns the favour with these two songs: Crooners should stay away from Rock music (unless your name is Johnny Favourite).

He further proves the rule with a version of Always on my Mind that, while not bad, doesn't work all that well. However, that is followed up with the Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon song That's Life. It's the kind of light jazz standard that Bublé does so well, and it may save the CD, getting it back on track for the final three solid tracks.

Overall, this is not a bad CD, but some questionable choices leave it with a hole in the middle that would have been better served by songs more suitable to Bublé's voice and style.

3 out of 5

CD Review: Rush: Snakes and Arrows

Snakes and Arrows is Rush's eighteenth studio album, the first since 2002's Vapour Trails, and the first work from Rush since the Excellent 2004 EP of cover songs, Feedback. With Feedback, Rush went back to the very beginning, recording songs they played in their cover band days. Snakes and Arrows, has stylistically stayed with the old days, sounding more like Rush of the early 80's than anything of the near past.

The radio played Far Cry is the first single off the album, and is very traditional Rush sounding. Armour and Sword, the second piece, is wonderfully weaved around an acoustic verse, that reminisces of old Rush, but with a new flair. Workin' Them Angels could almost belong to the Fly By Night album and The Larger Bowl returns Lifeson to the acoustic guitar

Acoustic guitars run throughout this album, giving it a warmth that other Rush efforts haven't always had, and speaking of acoustics, Hope, Lifeson's small acoustic piece is one of the albums true treats. The CD's other instrumentals, The Main Monkey Business and Malignant Narcissism both are excellent and work well to meld the album together. This is Rush's first multi-instrumental album.

Much has been made of Peart's lyrics on this album being very faith oriented, an understandable investigation of Peart's inner feelings on the issue considering much that has happened in his life the last ten years. However, the lyrics truly jump out at you, the examinations Peart is undergoing clearly defined and understood. There is little in the way of "Wonder what he means by that" in this album.

Overall this is an excellent Rush album, but still very much a Rush album. By that I mean if you are a die hard Rush fan, you have reason to rejoice. If you are not really a fan, this probably won't convert you. And if, like myself, you can go either way with Rush, this is one of the better ones.

4.5 out of 5