So Modern (Foghorn)
Reviewed by John Shand
Pick of the week 17-11-18
You hear the assortment of musical influences remotely, as if they are in the next room. In the foreground is a voice as both a singer and songwriter that sounds like no one else. Perhaps partly it is Ivona? Rose’s Polish background adding a layer of sepia-tinted Euro nostalgia to the folk and pop elements. But, more than that, it is a sense of clarity about how to burrow down to the authenticity of her own songs, so nothing sounds forced, even when they have been quite elaborately arranged and produced (the production being by Rose and Brian Campeau?, with the latter also playing guitar and synthisizers?). The songs are certainly not uniformly strong, but the title track, for instance, grabs you by the throat on the first listening, and sinks into your marrow the more you hear it, the music carrying faint echoes of Kate Bush while the lyrics lament the impact of modern gadgetry on our humanity. The textures are unique, too, with Rose’s piano, autoharp or melodica and Campeau’s? contributions coloured here and there by cello or trumpet, and underpinned by the authoritative and groovy rhythm section of Zoe Hauptmann? and Evan Mannell. JOHN SHAND
Humourous, up-beat, catchy, power/pop/psychedelic/rock … the Melbourne one-man-band The Jimmy C opens a can of earworms that burrow deep and leave you smiling.
The Jimmy C is Jamie Coghill, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who loves the music of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Some know Jamie as the drummer from Luxedo, Fez Perez and The Devilrock Four, others know him from his own music as The Jimmy C. He records everything at home in his spare room.
Songs For The Species is a humorous collection of songs whose creator says is sonically influenced by Super Furry Animals, The Kinks, Jellyfish, Supergrass, ELO, Pugwash, Beach Boys and The Beatles.
The album opener is Everybody Shits. “Imagine Jellyfish playing your favourite up-beat 70s sitcom theme,” Coghill enthuses. “[It’s] a bouncy pop song reminding us, “It doesn’t matter how cute you are, you still have an asshole.””
Another album highlight is the jangly Foot In My Mouth, “an ode to those of us who never fail to say the wrong thing every time we speak.” Coghill describes the song as, ” a slow plodding rocker with up-beat choruses and a chaotic split personality ending.”
Alt-country meets sunny pop in the harmony-filled “ASAPples”, which rides on some, “silly modern-life influenced lyrics” – the inspiration of texting, emojis and our technology-filled lives.
Born Without A Brain is where the drummer makes fun of drummers. “They’re my people!”, Coghill protests. Power pop guitars, lush Beach Boys harmonies and upbeat vibes makes this track a catchy and enjoyable album standout.
Songs For The Species is out now on Foghorn/MGM.
Watch the video for “Baby Blue Sky” here:
Fiona Joy (Hawkins) – New Album – Story of Ghosts
Having won many awards for her two previous solo piano albums, Fiona is destined to do the same with Story of Ghosts.
Fiona’s third solo piano album takes her fans on her journey of the past year of her life as she deals with a harrowing year in 2017 and makes no attempts to sugarcoat the emotional’s. The year included many friends and family members getting seriously sick, dying or going insane.!!
She bares it all over the course of these mostly grey-toned melancholy and vulnerable pieces, that draw on her classical background and impressionistic modern yet melodic composition.
‘There is a little madness in the music I write, it only pops out of the calmness momentarily, but enough to know that there is uncertainty in everything we hear, feel and experience. It’s much more classical and very connected to my roots” says Fiona .
“There’s a lot of emotion in it, that part was challenging. But when I get feedback from my fans that I’m touching their lives, and in some way making a difference, that makes it worthwhile.”
She uses the piano to weave interconnected tales with similar motifs – She opens the album with the uplifting and just whimsical enough “Song for Dunnie,” which she wrote for the funeral of Annette (Dunnie) Crossley, one of her best friends and business partner in her company Little Hartley Music. The lushly flowing piece represents a life full of vibrant brightness, good humour and joy.
“Story of Angels” moody hypnosis that leads to attempts to dance and then sudden dream-dashing stops into “Story of Ghosts” the deepest tale is told by the third story song. The contemplative “Story of Insanity” which alternates shards of light and night in a romp of anger tempered by gentle understanding. “Contemplating (Solo) which find Fiona deep in thought, seeking answers in the high notes as tension builds. “Blue Dream” whose high and low dynamics indicate mood swings that shift on a dime during crises. “The White Light” perhaps a place between worlds where high and low notes battle it out for our mortal hearts.
Fiona ‘s choice to work with producer Cookie Marenco reflects Fiona’s appreciation for high quality audio. “Even CD quality is unsatisfying when you’ve heard DSD or SACD, especially when played on a high-end system” says Fiona.
Fans of FLOW, the recently launched hit new age group featuring Fiona, Will Ackerman, Lawrence Blatt and Jeff Oster, will recognise the closing track “Before the Light” as the beautifully rendered foundation of “Arrival,” the opening track on FLOW’s self-titled debut. In the FLOW version, the darker edges of the piece get subsumed into a lighter hearted grooving vibe. Here it’s allowed to flourish in the shadows, exploring the heavy mysteries of life’s pain that occur before the healing – and wondering along the way if it will ever come.
Fiona recalls asking Ackerman once “What would happen if I ever got happy? Would the creativity dry up?” – since she’s built her artistry and fan base on her incredible musical embrace of sadness.
“No, Fiona, you will just start writing happier music.” He said, surprised at the answer “Maybe down the road, I’ll make a few happy songs”.
But for now, especially on Story of Ghosts we can enjoy the musical beauty and grace that she shares while working through the obstacles to make peace with the sorrow life has thrown her.
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