CD Review: Paisley Rose – Milk and Honey

First off, all apologies to Jennifer and Anthony for the ridiculous delay for writing this. Jenn told me that it was available for download over on CDBaby a couple of weeks ago. It’s been playing non-stop since then. (With a few interludious [yes–“interludious”] distractions by Muse. Some addictions simply cannot be shaken. That bass line in “Hysteria” … I mean … COME ON!)

But here it is. To be fair, I didn’t want to just dive in and write my first response to the new music. I wanted to take it all in for as long as possible before putting finger pads to keyboard. In essence, I wanted to get it right.

Just like Jenn and Anthony have.

Now … to be fair, I came at this with a slant towards their previous songs, “Exist,” “Murder of Crows,” and “I Was a Child of God.” All of those songs were as organic as it gets. Deeply layered instrumentation, the vast majority of which is completely acoustic and … and ….. I mean … sick with emotion, pathos, and amazement. Rarely do you hear such harmonies. Mamas and the Papas, Alice in Chains … I mean, we’re talking *that* level of insane harmonies.

Now, having said all that, I immediately went to CDBaby’s, downloaded the new CD, fidgetdly waited for it to finish, popped it into iTunes and onto my phone. Grabbed my headphones, turned off the lights, and settled in.

First sound: Champagne cork popping, and bubbly being poured. I can only assume this is in recognition of them FINALLY being able to release their life’s ambition. Laughter, yet … there’s some distinct foreshadowing to the echo in the sound.

Then “Incognito kicks in … and I’m left flabbergasted. I wasn’t ready. I expected more along the lines of “Exist” and Crows. Instead, I get a thunderous drum, trumpet, and completely plugged in guitar?! What?!

A completely different direction. Talk about a curve ball. Which, using my least favorite sports metaphor, they hit out of the park, over the Green Monster, and whetted my appetite for the rest of the CD.

Far and away, one of my favorite tracks on the new CD is the next track, “Head in the Clouds.” I love this song for so many reasons. The dueling guitars. The subtle synth. The lyrics. The harmonics. The dynamics. This is the first time I’ve heard Jenn simply BELT IT. And holy sweet Halloween candy bag full of Skors … can she let it out. I’ve had my suspicions–that there’s a lot more force to her voice than she had previously let on. I was so much more than just right. It’s like when you’re watching some incredibly plot-twisty movie, and you kind of see hints of what’s coming, and then you get the big reveal, and it’s exactly what you thought, and you have that “YES! I NAILED IT!” That’s how that track hit me.

“Venus over Mars” is another guitar-driven track thatย  has to be heard to be believed. Words simply cannot describe it adequately. So … please–just get the CD.

But that’s not the end of the review. Oh … not hardly. ๐Ÿ™‚

See, after “VoM,” there is a complete shift. “Space Hibernation” is a completely piano/strings/drums piece that will completely mellow you out to the point where you very well may forget to actually breathe. It’s that relaxing.

“Visuva” is a great choral piece that reminds me of an old, abandoned Catholic church, in which all the benches are rotting, the stained glass windows missing half their panes, but through those broken panes shines beams of sunlight that highlight the choir standing at the front, where once stood the pulpit and communion table. I don’t know. It just has a really incredible vibe to it. If this were a video, that’s how I’d shoot it. Dramatic shots of the instruments being played, close-ups of the choir members, shots from the back of the church, showing the age and demise of the building, yet echoing through the once hallowed halls resounds these angelic voices. I love this piece.

For the rest of the album, they return to an acoustic sound, returning to their roots. “Rowboat” is an awesome a capella track that makes you want to get up and travel to just about ANYwhere. “Dancing in the Rain” … if I’m not missing my mark, this could almost be called, “Jenn’s Anthem.” ๐Ÿ™‚ “Island Song” sounds like a non-reggae track that has a really awesome island vibe to it.

This is their first CD. It already leaves me thirsting for more. Not because it lacks anything–quite the contrary, it is an amazing first full-length offering. No … it leaves me wanting more because I *know* there’s more kicking around in the back of their collective mind. They have more in them, and now that we’ve this incredible music to gnaw on and ponder, I’m already anxious for them to put out MORE music. Selfish of me, I know … but I’m a music junkie. I need more.

EDIT: Just read Jenn’s Facebook page. Apparently, “Head in the Clouds” is her favorite track too. That makes me smile from ear to ear.

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