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 that  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. 🙂

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.” 🙂 “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.

Upcoming Interview with Paisley Rose

Okay, I know I said back in June that I’d be interviewing Paisley Rose in the coming weeks. “Weeks” translates into approximately 26. 🙂 Hey, they’re busy writing new material and making excellent music. Who am I to stand in the way?

However, the interview questions have been forwarded for their consideration! They’re getting ready to shoot a video for one of their new tracks, so hopefully that means the new material will be released really soon.

So if you haven’t checked them out on iTunes, I would highly recommend that you do. Ignore the “pop” genre label. It’s flat-out wrong. I don’t know what to classify them as, but I can promise you it’s NOT pop.

WHEW!

All the music from my phone remained intact. THAT’s a relief.

So, the point of my concern was that a few months back, I had to re-install Windows (guess Bill didn’t like me using my “evaluation” Windows 7 OS anymore …). Unfortunately, my iTunes library wasn’t backed up entirely. All the purchased material was flushed with the hard drive re-format. Fortunately, that consisted of a total of two songs from my friend in Seattle, who sings with the band Paisley Rose out of Portland. Again, just two tracks, and I most certainly did not mind re-purchasing them … but what if i had lost my whole library? I’m not an iTunes guru by any stretch, but from the attempts I made at finding a way to re-download my already purchased tracks, I seemed to be up the proverbial creek without so much as a canoe, much less a paddle. 

Anyway, so it was a great relief to me to see that my phone did not purge the purchases when I connected it to my desktop for the first time.

And stand by for another post! A concert announcement that I didn’t know was even on the docket. SWEET.

On the Horizon

Yes, I know … it’s been a while. Life happens. I can’t do anything to stop it.

And I don’t *want* to do anything to stop it. The highs are too many to discount it based on a few lows. Sometimes the lows suck, sure. But the highs … much goodness and enjoyment.

For example …

We all have those friends from our high school days who we remember upon having the cobwebs shaken loose from our deepest recesses, where the vague tends to mingle with the suspicion of forgotten. With a word or a song, maybe a smell … perhaps something we see, the memories come flooding back, and we sit back and reminisce with ourselves while we smile to no one in particular. Those present, assuming anyone else is around, might question the grin with an ounce of trepidation, for such looks are normally immediately chalked up to a diminished mental state.

Such was my experience the other night when I was transported back to my senior year of high school. As is so often the case when I look at old friends’ pictures on Facebook, I found a picture of a girl with whom I have not spoken since at least May 1990. This friend and I used to dance together at church youth functions. I’m pretty sure that she was a couple of years younger than I. I’m equally sure that I didn’t care. The sincerest and warmest smile is what I remember. Friendly, approachable, fun … quite the combo.

And away I went to college. Never saw her again.

Flash forward almost exactly 20 years. Facebook. Friends. Friends of friends. Jennifer Morrow. Memories. Now Jennifer Morrow Burrell. “Add Friend.” And just like that, we were back in contact.

The musical connection, thus making it a relavent blog post, is that she is now an aspiring musician with ambition and talent.  Her works can be found on iTunes under the name “Paisley Rose.” At the moment, they only have two songs listed in their catalog, but I know more are coming, and I’m *really* excited to hear what they’ll offer.

She and her husband, who is also in the band, have graciously agreed to a phone interview in the coming weeks! I know they’re super busy with life and stuff, so the fact that they are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to answer a few measly questions for me is flattering beyond words. When I get the interview finished and transcribed, I’ll post it for your reading pleasure. It might be a couple weeks, but it’ll be worth it!

Thanks, Jennifer!

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