Friday, June 5, 2009

Questions: Three Questions

These three songs have three things in common: the titles, of course, are all questions; the artists all happen to be female; and these are songs that I would have posted over the course of the week, if this had been a normal week. It wasn’t. I have been putting the finishing touches on the restoration of Oliver di Place, and my glitches have glitches. But I do have my new file host. In fact, this post is a test of that host, so if anyone has any problem listening to or downloading the tracks, please let me know in the comments.

Cheryl Wheeler: Is it Peace or Is It Prozac


Cheryl Wheeler is one of those artists who is often labeled folk or singer-songwriter. Neither label really describes her art. Wheeler writes most of her material, and she plays acoustic guitar, but she plays with a full band, and uses whatever instruments suit her material. For Is It Peace or Is It Prozac?, Wheeler chose an arrangement which begins and ends with a snatch of elevator music, to help make her point about the overmedicating of America. As always, Wheeler makes her case with warmth and good humor.

Devon Sproule: Does the Day Feel Long?


You’ve probably heard of those hippie communes that were all the rage in the sixties. And it’s easy to believe that these were nothing more than an expression of the misplaced optimism of youth, and that the communes all died out when the sixties gave way to the disillusionment of the seventies. But Devon Sproule can tell you that some of these communes still exist; she grew up on one. Perhaps it is this lifestyle that left Sproule open to a variety of musical influences. Her interests in folk, country, and jazz can be clearly heard here.

Mia Doi Todd: What If We Do?


As I write this, I realize that something else unites these artists. None of them can be easily pinned down to a single musical genre. And Mia Doi Todd is perhaps the most baffling of all in this respect. Her first musical training was as a classical singer. She had a major label deal at on time on Columbia Jazz. And her early recordings, featuring just her and an acoustic guitar, might have been considered folk. Don’t even try to add her talent as a painter, or her study of avant garde dance to the puzzle. All of this might make it sound like her music would be “difficult”. But this is not the case at all. Original, yes, but accessible as well. The best way to get a handle on it is to just listen.

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