Wow, almost 2 1/2 years since I posted anything here. Makes me wonder why I have kept the back-end stuff all up to date. But if I hadn’t I would have had to do it all when I decided to write this. Not that many folks will see it, but a few of you might.
And what is it that is motivating me to once again take a chance on making a fool of myself by trying to string together words coherently? Music. Some of the best music I have heard. Ever.
My favorite music is Country. I was raised on it, from Tammy Wynette, to Jim Ed Brown, to Johnny Cash, and the Statler Brothers. Some folks I know raised on the same kind of music from the same period can’t stand anything that is called country today. I can certainly understand that, Sugarland is not much like Hank, Sr. But then, Bocephus isn’t much like Hank, Sr. either.
Personally, I decided somewhere along the line that what genre music is supposed to be didn’t matter much to me. If I liked it, it was good. And if I didn’t like it, well someone else probably did, so more power to them, enjoy.
My music purchases still run mostly to country, but my phone has albums from Gloria Estefan, Bonnie Raitt, Ok Go, Huey Lewis and the News, Sheryl Crow, the Eagles, and Santana. Plus a few albums of Scottish bagpipes and as soon as I get a bigger microSD card, my album of organ fugues by Bach. My tastes could be called a bit eclectic.
Then there is the reason for this long rambling post. Her name is Marian Call (@mariancall on Twitter, worth following without the music). She is an independent singer/songwriter, living in Alaska. And taking her inspiration for her songs from her life, her likes, and where she is. And she is a self-confessed geek, although confession sounds like it is something to be ashamed of, when in reality she is proud of it. I reviewed her first two albums, Vanilla and got to fly, almost 3 years ago. Since her new album came out in October, it was quite a wait for her fans. But it was well worth it.
Something Fierce is a double CD, with 19 tracks on it. (Oh look. There it is to the right, you can check it out while you read. Isn’t that handy?) They cover a range of styles, topics and moods, showing that Ms. Call has improved on the very strong skills she was exhibiting in her first efforts. The songs are filled with puns, some obvious, others less so, and there are layers of meaning and feeling in almost every song. So much so, that trying to explain them can be an exercise in frustration. You just need to experience them. Now for a few of my favorite things.
Good Morning Moon is a light, upbeat, happy song, with an explanation of orbital mechanics in it. And by upbeat, I mean if you use it for an alarm, by the second verse you will be smiling, no matter how much of a non-morning person you are. And I say this as someone who hates mornings unless I am watching the sun rise before going to bed.
Temporal Dominoes is a commissioned song. Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer (@BadAstronomer on Twitter, follow him.) paid for the song with cookies. All I can say is, he must be one heck of a baker. I have to confess, I am still not sure what the song is about. Something to do with shifting paradigms, Europeans, and flying fish. Although they are not mentioned, I keep getting an impression of quantum physics and CERN, but I am not certain how they tie in with riding a train from Oxford to Cardiff. I don’t really like this song for the subject matter, however intriguing it is. I am much more excited by the singing. Ms. Call’s voice is fantastic on all of the songs on the album, but the way she sings this one, with the tempo changes and the sheer fun it seems she is having make this a favorite for me.
Highway Five is a bit of a love song for the road Ms. Call has traveled along the west coast all of her life. Her love for those travels, for the people and places she has met and hopes yet to meet, flows out of the song. And personally, it does a good job of expressing the desire to find out what is around the next corner, down that side street, experience something new.
All New (Heart Shut Tight) is a failed love song. Or at least, of a failed attempt at maybe love. Almost everyone has experienced the doubt and fear of trying to open up a new relationship. And of the pain that comes when you find out the other person is not interested. This song evokes that pain, but that is not what the song is really about. It is about having the courage to try, healing and learning from the pain of failure, and coming back to try again. It is a song of hope and perseverance.
Anchorage is by far my favorite song on the album. It is a very personal song for Ms. Call, and that comes through in the words and the singing. It deals with fear and uncertainty, with searching for your place, and finding it. It starts off hesitant, almost tentative, but by the end, it is solid and firm. It does not end on a triumphant note, but on a sure and certain one. Which is appropriate, triumphs can fade and be forgotten, but a solid foundation will last.
These are my five favorites off of the album. But I like every song, which I can’t say about any other album I can think of, even the various greatest hits compilations I own. Some have a strong emotional connection, while others are all about the music for me. You can see that both kinds make my top five, with both Good Morning Moon and Temporal Dominoes doing so despite my having a stronger emotional connection to songs that didn’t make it. But then, the music is so strong, it made me like one song in spite of the unpleasant emotions and memories it evokes. (None of the 5 I talked about above.) I don’t think you can ask more of any songwriter or singer than to move you beyond your own feelings, so you can accept what they are offering on its own merits.
There is much more, far too much to cover in one post. And frankly, so much that I am still finding new things after months of listening to the album. If you like good music, you should get it and start finding what it has for you in it. Because it has something, whether the haunting lullaby of Aurora Borealis that so perfectly captures the dancing Northern Lights, or the fun of I Wish I Was A Real Alaskan Girl, or the frustrations abounding in Dear Mister Darcy.
So head over to the Marian Call Music website, or check it out above. You can stream Something Fierce for free and listen as much as you want. Or even better, you can buy it, in either CD or digital format, and support a worthy artist. It is available through her site on Amazon, CDBaby, and iTunes. Best way to buy it is right there (Or here through the widget, and no, that is not an affiliate link) through bandcamp. They give the most back to the artist, which is where we want the money to go.