Jana's Perfect Albums: Songs for a Hurricane
|Songs for a Hurricane: Kris Delmhorst|
In this new and happy age of instant song gratification from iTunes and every other download service around, I sometimes worry that the digital music revolution will leave the art of the full album in the dust. Sure, the mass marketing of radio and commercialization of some of the more "popular" forms of music make it easy to have the radio hit of the summer on your iPod without the fluffy filler of tracks 2-10 filling up your hard drive.
However, I am a firm believer that there are many artists out there who put care and attention into crafting not just one or two, but WHOLE albums worth of fabulous songs! It's awesome. There's a trick to theme, to flow, to exposition and resolution. A good album is like a good novel, without all that bothersome reading involved (unless you're a liner note junkie like me).*
Hence, dear reader (or readers if this is a good day), I offer you a new series of CDs that I consider to be "Full Listens." Albums that master the point of relevance, theme, and brilliance. The whole shebang, as it were.
Songs for a Hurricane -- yes, it was made pre-Katrina, and the point is not the weather. Well, I don't think so, anyway. Even though there are such aptly-named titles as "Waiting Under the Waves", "Weathervane", and amazingly, "Hurricane"...it's more of a giant metaphor that works. Sometimes weather gets a little cliche. I'll admit that I resort to talking about the weather a lot...in my daily life and in my writing. Something so huge and planetary affects our individual lives so much. I suppose we should pay attention, hm?
Kris' album takes the form of a storm's path as metaphor for human relationships...the impending malay summed up in the first track with the line, "Waiting under the waves...I am sorry that we're sinking but we're sinking just the same." Well, ouch. "Weathervane" offers some tasty, eerie guitar work along with the personal affirmation of, "No more weathervane...I'm gonna be the wind." Yeah! Who wants to be shoved around all the time?
To me, the central song of the album is "Hurricane," maybe a microcosm of the project at large. The song itself seems to track the storm's progress...a good little clip at the beginning, a powerful chorus, a quiet, eye-of-the-storm bridge...and then a guitar solo at the end that could bring down a house.
JANA RANT TIME: The guitar solo is becoming a lost art, so when songs like "Hurricane" put it back where it should be, you know I'm going to take notice. Remember Zeppelin? Hendrix? Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues"? The Gin Blossoms' "Hey Jealousy"? (Sorry...I'm just being random). Killer guitar solos, all. Then somewhere in the late-90's, in the effort to cram as many repeated mind-numbing pop choruses into a 3 minute song, the guitar solo went the way of plastic grocery bags in San Francisco. So anyway, any time someone remembers that guitar solos are not just filler, I'm going to point it out. Thank you.
Kris' voice is a unique one, and her writing is intelligent but accessible. She's a Massachusetts folkie who spends time on the West Coast, and those bi-coastal writers always seem to have a nice outlook on life. I highly recommend any of her albums, but start with Songs for Hurricane in celebration of the impending rains of spring.
"Babe, you always were a hurricane, the way at first you'd rage and then you'd rain. All that calm there in your eyes just felt like a lie...it always changed."
* To my English degreed friends, which are many...I am just kidding.