Sunday, July 20, 2008

Songs That Might Otherwise Pass You By

Tanya Davis, "Art"

When the guitar and light drums start off this song, you're not sure what kind of song this is going to be. A light pop song? R & B? Well, definitely not thrash metal--you can be sure of that. But it starts off with such a clean template that you could see the song going many directions--a blank slate. Perfect for an artist. Tanya Davis is a poet and musician from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and her poetry is well-served and well-offered in this song. She overlays the music with her rhythmic poetry--more talking-in-rhythm than singing, though the choruses are more traditionally rendered. The chorus and verse are not mismatched, however. The two styles are different but complimentary--the singing and speak-singing wax and wane fluidly, both part of the cohesive whole. Like the musical poets of the 60's and 70's, Tanya hasn't narrowed her concept of what a song is or what a poem is. Instead she's made her poems musical and her songs poetic--a very poetic gesture.

More songs

Tanya Davis offers the world art, in many forms

Pomegranates, "The Children's Progress" (Not a direct link. Recorded live from Daytrotter)

This starts out sounding like a pretty straight-forward alt-country song--almost Patsy Cline-era country, but it soon shows aspects of more modern alt-country. I'm reminded a little bit of The Elected--the plaintive, fervent, yet still slightly distant male vocals. The alt-country tinge. The visual, descriptive lyrics: "Well, you can beg and you can cry, gonna eat you alive, just as sure as you've two eyes, they're gonna eat you alive". Perhaps what they most have in common is being young and feeling burdened. Whereas in the Elected song "Greetings in Braille", the burden was having an alcoholic father, in The Pomegranate's "The Children's Progress", the singer seems to be fearful of more abstract threats. He "[falls] asleep with fearful eyes", waiting for something terrible to sneak up from behind the hills in his view. His parents ask him when he's going to learn, that "no one deserves the funeral that [he] has to rehearse". Why he feels he's so close to tragedy, he doesn't say. It's an apt analogy for how I felt when I was younger. No one had told me what to expect when I moved out on my own; I didn't have the least bit of an idea how to maneuver through each day, how to control my life. Therefore I did feel like fear was breathing down on me, ready to snatch me to some morbid other side. Life did sometimes resemble a less charming Tim Burton film.


The Pomegranates gather inspiration from the ceiling, and from each other.

The Lovely Sparrows, "Year of the Dog"

This is a song of contrasting instruments, contrasting parts and contrasting styles. A beautiful composition that won't be pinned down. We hear the soft rumblings of a Spanish-style guitar, a flute whispers in, rising slightly as the vocals enter, indicating the first hints of melody. The guitar continues to strum and pluck underneath the singer as he pulls the melody into cohesion. A thumping drum beat introduces the transition from the looser elements of the first part of the song to a more energetic, rollicking song, complete with hand claps. The denouement harkens to the beginning, with the instruments devolving to seemingly random expressions. This song is not unlike my fashion taste: eclectic, with pieces that individually seem to have no business together, but when put together form something fascinating, daring and thoroughly original (though if you saw what I was wearing today, you might form your own opinion).


The Lovely Sparrows

No comments: