I have not done much in the way of writing reviews here. I seem to spend most of my time doing the posts for my plugin posts. I enjoy looking around in the plugin depository, but once I have spent a few hours doing that and writing the posts, I do not feel like writing much else. So I am going to write this before the plugin post, to see if that will work out better.
The choice of what to write about is easy this time. I mentioned back in this post on Twitter that I was introduced to Marian Call’s music by following Phil Plait on Twitter. Since then I have bought her 2 albums, and listened to them quite a bit.
Her first album is named Vanilla, named after a song on the CD, and both live up to the name, if you are talking about vanilla extract. It is very pleasant and it can be very powerful. The song starts off slowly, with Marian playing her typewriter and singing about how dull and plain her virtues are, then segues into some fast paced swing that shows her voice is anything but vanilla. This song is probably my favorite off of both albums, and the song I most want to see her perform in person.
Fret starts the album off with an uptempo beat, which hides the subject of the lyrics, someone fretting about not being worthy of the person they love. If they really love that person. But they must, since they wrote the song about that person.
Dark Dark Eyes is very a slow, mellow song. Inspired by character River Tam from Firefly, it is a song of reassurance and love. Promising to to always be there for the listener, Marian puts a lot of emotion into the quiet words she sings.
Then there is The Volvo Song, which sounds suspiciously like taking some real life incidents and dealing with them in song. You really love them, but they do something that really ticks you off. The frustration of dealing with the incidents and the person who keeps doing them comes through very well.
That ability to get the emotions of the song to her listeners is Marian’s strongest point. From the laid back feeling of Sunday Afternoon to the love expressed in I’m Yours, it is very easy to believe that she is singing about what she knows and feels. And she lets you feel right along with her.
While Windows Media Player labeled this CD as Rock when I ripped it to my hard drive, that is not really accurate. Alternative is a better description, alternative folk, swing, blues, whichever way you want to come at it. Independent is even better, staying away from one label and just picking whatever style, or styles, works best for the song she is singing.
got to fly
This album is a bit different. It was commissioned by Quantum Mechanix after they heard Marian sing her song, It was Good for You Too. It is full of songs for geeks, from the first track I’ll Still Be a Geek After Nobody Thinks it’s Chic, which is what it sounds like, through to the last, the earlier mentioned Good for You Too, about a certain Mrs. Reynolds from Firefly.
If you are a geek of any kind, Browncoat, BSG, Trek, you will find something on this album to relate to. But you don’t have to be a geek to enjoy it. The feelings expressed in the songs, whether the alienation in I’ll Still Be a Geek, the frantic stress in Got to Fly, or the loneliness of In the Black, are all things we all share to some extent.
This shares the strengths of her first album, the beautiful voice pulling the emotions out of you, lyrics that are smart and sharp, and has the added bonus of touching on parts of the geek subculture. And it shows that while the touchstones may differ, geeks are not that different from the mainstream. Despite what both sides may say about it.
Finding the music
For digital versions of Marian Call’s music, you can get it from Amazon here, or from iTunes, or go to Marian’s web site where she has a variety of options for supporting her and her music. If you do purchase the digital downloads from Amazon.com, do not purchase the Prologue or Postmortem clips. They are small (10 sec or less) studio outtakes and you can hear all of them from the clips.
You can find CDs of Vanilla at CD Baby and CDs of got to fly at Quantum Mechanix. The got to fly CDs are limited edition, so you really shouldn’t wait to get one if you are like me and have irrational attachments to CDs.