A Year With Lindsey Stirling

In late April of last year my old musical buddy Meiko sent an email about her latest album being made with the help of a platform called PledgeMusic—first time I’d heard of it. After I signed up for that I noticed on the side it gives you recommendations for other artists, and one of those was Anna Nalick; been years, but yeah, sign me up! Then amongst others I checked out but didn’t like came a recommendation for someone I’d never heard of, Lindsey Stirling.
So I clicked on that, and it looked promising, since I love violin. At the time the artwork hadn’t been shown, so I had no idea what this was going to be about. I liked the title of the sample track, Crystalize, so I clicked on it and. . . it didn’t work. So I bookmarked the page for later, since I was in the middle of preparing for two weeks of photography in Jordan. So: packing, equipment check, visa, doctor checkup, etc.
Didn’t think much about it until after the trip to Jordan, where I found myself in a hotel room in Paris on May 28, with a two-day stopover before coming home to El Lay. As some of you know by now, I’m not a fan of this place—the only reason I’d come here on my own is if the Louvre had a yard sale—so I decided to see if I could sleep during the day and stay up all night for a very good reason.

It worked! I had no jetlag when I got back home.
More importantly, as soon as I got to my desktop in my living room, before answering all the emails and stuff, I went over to pledge Lindsey’s new album, and the rest is. . . herstory?

;o)

Lindsey Stirling LIVE!

Wow.
No way to put into words how amazing and majestic the Lindsey Stirling concert was, even a week later. Magical might touch on it just for starters, and I’m not referring to her being sawed in half and suddenly appearing in an empty box, though she did that too.
So, we’ll see if my vaunted memory is up to the task of going song by song. . . probably not, considering the Meet and Greet is all a giant blur. And with the events of that week, it was a most welcome escape from reality, even for only a few hours.
And if you wonder why there’s no photos or videos here, you can pick any of these three reasons (though you should probably lean toward the last): A. I simply wanted to enjoy every moment. B. My phone’s camera is crappy. C. We were told before the show started, to the point of signing a release form—and it was pretty obvious during—that the concert was being filmed for DVD release.

Meet and Greet
Due to my back going out that morning, as it usually does once or twice a year—I really shoulda stayed in bed, but couldn’t miss this—I sat down at one of the few tables while everyone else lined up, so I would be last, which was fine with me. Kit didn’t look tired as he took the book I’d brought to be autographed as well as my cane, and thankfully Lindsey still looked fresh as an electric daisy violin as she asked me my name and gave me an unsolicited hug; the only reason I know this is because Other Lindsey took a photo of it, I swear I don’t remember. I asked if we could get into a tango pose, but never got to do it fully—check photo header of this blog—before she signed the book and a poster. She asked me if I was a dancer, no doubt due to the tango pose, which was really the last thing I wanted to talk to her about. Frankly, the whole thing seems like a blur now; I’m surprised I remember that much.

Soundcheck: Mirror Haus
After a lot of questions answered yet leaving many not—due to time constraints—this song is played in a Spaghetti western version, as she calls it, the main difference being Kit playing an acoustic guitar rather than keys.

Opening Act: The Federal Empire
Two guitars and a keyboard make up this band. These guys are much better live than when I checked out their music on the internet. Just sayin’.

1 The Phoenix
I was already spoilered to the big reveal, so I don’t mind telling you I knew that wasn’t Lindsey playing at the beginning of the song, at the top of the six-foot-tall center-stage pedestal that looks freakin’ dangerous. Instead she would come out of the back of the auditorium; the only question was on which side would she mount the stage. . . and even that wasn’t as much of a mystery, since I’d seen a roadie place some portable steps pretty much in front of me. So yes, I was looking around waiting to see her pop by while everyone else’s eyes were fastened on the stage. Saw some security people first, and then the spotlight hit her, maybe twenty feet away from me; not all the close considering she’d given me a hug a couple of hours earlier, but much cooler as this time she was playing the violin. A little later she actually apologized to the women she’d scared while coming toward the stage.
Once on stage all the dancers joined her with violins in front of the bottom screens, creating silhouettes as if to continue disguising which one was the star, but since she’s always in the middle it wasn’t that hard to figure out. But the most fun was watching Drew crashing the cymbals like they’d vastly insulted him, as well as her enjoyment of pizzicato. . .

2 Electric Daisy Violin
One of the few of my old faves that she did, though this one’s all about the music; she uses the same choreography she did in the music video, which is pretty rudimentary. I just love how joyful this song is, and her beatific smile playing it.

3 Prism
With the release of the music video for this song, cleverly named “The Violindseys,” just a week or so before, there were no surprises in the choreography, and in fact the video ran behind them as they danced/played; it even started with her booty shake. And this is when I first noticed Savannah was my fave dancer, as I ended up watching her as much as Lindsey. Somehow the music seemed to flow more smoothly than the studio version, and even though I liked this one before, it feels even catchier now.

4 Shatter Me
The first costume change—or maybe she just threw the pink tutu on over the shorts and suspenders ensemble—leads into Lindsey singing for only the second time, doing a soft harmonizing version of the chorus before it breaks into its usual hard rockness. The 3-D gearworks on the screens. . . obviously they fit the song, but felt they went on too long. The landscapes didn’t help either; it wasn’t till the globe shattered that it really worked. Really nothing here that makes it better than the previous version.

5 Lost Girls
Though it’s billed as a sequel to “Shatter Me,” what happens to the ballerina after she escapes the snow globe, it doesn’t really come through here. Instead we get one of the dancers—Malece, in this case—being bullied by the others as she tries to join their choreo. There’s a lot of floating lights as the innovative front screen is used for the first time. If I’m remembering correctly, a dark figure—played by Ashley—gives her super dance powers or something, and then she’s accepted. . . but then I really wasn’t there for the story, so whatever. As with everything, it’s really the music that matters.

6 Elements
Lindsey has a lot of fun in this one, with giant bubbles coming down on the front screen; she either jumps into them or kicks them out of existence. Lots of interpretive dance to fire and rain. I’ve only seen this on video before, but it looks like it’s the same as before.

Interlude Video: Everything Goes Wrong
In the great tradition of her “Diva” and “Wet” videos, here’s another brief comedy where Erich the stage manager lets her know that among other mishaps, Luna peed in the shoes she’s presently wearing. When Kit drops pickle juice on her tutu it’s the last straw, and even when she thinks she has everything back in control she has to steal a little girl’s tiny violin in order to make it to the next song.

7 Tiny Violin Medley
“Gimme an A,” she asks Kit, who dutifully plays it on his toy piano as they sit cross-legged at the front of the stage. It takes a while for the tiny violin we saw in the video to be tuned to the point where she can play the first song she’d ever learned, the same song everyone learns no matter the instrument; even I’ve played it on the harp at a festival. Kit joins her on “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” while Drew does the Rock Out finger gesture. From there they go into a medley of vaguely familiar songs that are either from video games or movies, all done for the cute, and it works.

8 Something Wild
Like the first few times I heard “Shatter Me” without the lyrics, this takes a bit of getting used to without Andrew McMahon telling you to follow your heart. It’s also different with Kit playing acoustic guitar rather than keys, making it sound completely folksy. By now I’m thoroughly used to Drew’s cajon, though. Lindsey actually does more dancing here than on the video.

9 Gavi’s Song
After a touching ramble for those who don’t know about Gavi, she launches into a lovely rendition of this amazing dirge. The abstract visuals help a little, but it’s the music that matters here. #WeAreGavi

10 Those Days
The second part of the Gavi tribute features clips of them together, and completely overwhelm this simple but catchy tune. All good, though. My fave piece is included, where Gavi holds out the side of his hand and Lindsey uses a finger to bow across it, a violinist’s version of a fist bump that leaves her laughing. Another highlight comes from a documentary where she’s overwhelmed by the pressure and Gavi comforts her. Then the dancers join her in flowing white dresses in a more classical dance than the modern versions done so far. These two pieces were so lovely, a welcome break from the big show.

11 Crystallize
Like “Tom Sawyer” at a Rush concert, Lindsey always plays her breakthrough hit, with the ice castle on the screens. Can’t say for sure if it’s the same choreography, but likely. Sadly she didn’t do her signature limbo-winning backbend, where her ponytail touches the floor; maybe it’s gotten old for her.

12 Hold My Heart
For most of the audience I would bet this was the highlight, regardless of what their favorite song is. It starts with the dancers, in beautiful costumes, putting on a small vaudeville/Keystone cops skit while Lindsey does a costume change. Never figured out which song that was playing on the old-timey piano, but after having some fun with magic wands—Malece goes crazy and then gets the only non-floating stick—they go into the audience for a can-can, bringing up a guy to dance with them. When he sits down Addie offers him flowers, which she of course pulls away at the last moment. After doing that twice, she’s the one who’s surprised when on the third try it’s Savannah who steals the fake bouquet and runs back on stage. This is the most playful they get, so I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Okay, by now Lindsey’s ready in her circus ringmaster outfit, though the tails are much longer than her shorts. . . probably for a reason, as we’ll find out soon. While we’re gawking at the surprise appearance of ZZ Ward to sing the song live, Lindsey and her dancers are preparing for the first trick, which has the petite and bendy violinist being cut in half. Good thing they matched shoes, because it was really convincing, at least to someone who doesn’t know how the trick is done. Even better, a few minutes later, rather than disappearing, Lindsey appears in a previously empty-except-for-violin box, which is a tougher trick to do; she makes it look easy, and the music never falters.

The Luna Show
Luna Latte sits and stays like a champ, but truly shines when she walks and spins. According to Lindsey, the best she’s done all tour; she’s having a proud momma moment. Extra bacon for the puppy on me!
(Okay, if you’ve read this far and don’t know Luna is Lindsey’s dog. . .)

13 The Arena
My favorite song from the new album is next, with full-blown Teddy Roosevelt quote to kick things off. The front screen is again employed, with a lot of images formed from what looks like sand, as Lindsey plays on the pedestal; I don’t know if that’s a callback to the video or if she knows arena is Spanish for sand. At one point she kicks out and the sand-man giving her lip dissolves. Large words appear, much like in Transcendence in a previous concert. It closes with the final, most important part of the quote, and Lindsey runs off for another costume change as Kit plays us out on a soft almost-romantic keyboard version of the theme.

14 Mirage
Lindsey appears on the pedestal in semi-sari, joined by the dancers wearing more Arabian Nights garb for definitely Indian-inspired dancing. Mandala-themed images play on the screens; even without the music, there’s no doubt what inspired this song. A contraption known as an invisible chair is now on the pedestal to make Lindsey look like she’s floating; the falling skirt hides it well. The dancers bring out giant red feathers to envelop the star at the end.

15 Stars Align
After a short “You guys have been amazing!” she runs to the top of the pedestal with the customary starry scenes behind her as she plays her usual closer, not forgetting the Britney Spears-like dancing interludes. Malece does her weird flips that always look like she got it wrong and fell on her ass, followed by the fun footwork that makes this song so good despite how silly the music video was.

Encore: Roundtable Rival/Don’t Let This Feeling Fade medley
Some people still don’t know you don’t leave the concert after the “last” song. When the lights come back up Kit is making an electric guitar scream before starting the familiar riff, quickly joined by Lindsey to jam on the pedestal for a few seconds, leading into what has to be her most recognizable song. A leap from four stairs up signals the start of the Wild West danceoff, with scenes from Westerns playing behind them.
As the music turns to the next piece—I hate that song—the dancers go behind quickly brought-out screens to take off their western duds, leaving them clad in neon sports bras. Lindsey’s clothes also show off plenty of neon as the dreaded rap goes over and over. It gets a little surreal as the dancers do some tap steps around Lindsey’s playing, until she comes down to join them with one more snippet of the Roundtable Rival chorus.

The feeling might not fade, but the music does. After dancer intros the entire crew comes out to bow, including a Drew split and a crewmember backflip. Drew tosses a drumstick to Kit so they can each throw one into the audience, and we’re done. . .
From what I’d seen online, I’d been afraid the visuals would be too much, the music too loud, the lights too bright; too impersonal. That we wouldn’t get the same girl-next-door best-friend Lindsey that we all know and love. Thankfully it wasn’t like that at all, once again proving that a live show is way better than a video.
Doesn’t mean I’m not going to buy the DVD when it comes out. . .
;o)

Two Disparate Music Experiences

Thursday
First up was a movie theater viewing of “Rush: Time Stand Still” which feels like a sequel to their “Beyond the Lighted Stage” documentary. This one ostensively covers their R40 tour, billed as their last one ever, but includes plenty of reminiscing about the old days, such as their time on the road with Kiss in the 70s, as well as the various vehicles they used to get around the country when they were playing 250 gigs a year.
Behind the scenes videos of people you like—not just their music, but as human beings—are always fun because they come across as “just like us.” Alex in particular is his usual hilarious self, but Geddy and Neil both get to show their funny side too. The best part for me was the first-person video from Neil’s motorcycle; over the years there’s been plenty of photographs, but never vids.
So while this wasn’t nearly as in-depth as “Lighted Stage,” that’s okay, it wasn’t meant to be. Think of it as an author adding a surprise chapter at the end of a book you loved.
Topped it off with a half hour walk home in the dark, something I haven’t been able to enjoy in a while. Just cool enough to feel like autumn. . .

Saturday
Going full disparate from Rush, Saturday featured a live performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, bookended by Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. This being my second time at this Pasadena Symphony series—the first time I didn’t know where the Ambassador Auditorium and got there way early—I wasn’t expecting anything as good as that first one, with the lovely Elena Urioste soloing on what’s probably my fave classical work, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, but on the other hand I’ll listen to the Rhapsody anytime anywhere. As a matter of fact I tweeted: “If someone challenged me to listen to Rhapsody In Blue for 24 hours straight, I would take them up on it.” I also tweeted: “The start of Appalachian Spring always reminds me of sunrise on a misty morn,” which pretty much encapsulates how I feel about that work. Scheherazade didn’t do as much for me this time, other than the familiar parts, of course, but this day was about Rhapsody anyway.
I hadn’t given much thought as to who would be the piano soloist, so I was a bit surprised when conductor David Lockington introduced him as a fifteen-year-old who was as good on the violin as the piano. Ray Ushikubo indeed proved he was talented as well as a teen, for he brought a lot of drama and bombastic movement to the piano. . . although a lot of pianists older than him overdo it as well.
The fun part about this piece is in identifying the parts Gershwin mentioned inspired him, like being on a train or the bustle of traffic. The clarinet glissando that starts things off didn’t give me chills like it usually does, but the horns were extra rude to make up for it. This is the third time I’ve seen Rhapsody live in the past couple of years, but it’s tough to say which is better or more fun. This was the smallest orchestra I’ve seen performing it, but then Gershwin originally wrote it that way, and it didn’t suffer from lack of sound. The point is, this was well worth the walk in the surprisingly hot sun and the price of admission, though the fact that I have to take the elevator to get to the restrooms and water fountain got old in a hurry. . . though I did get to flirt with a pretty rainbow-dress-wearing frizzy redhead in the lobby beforehand, so all good. . .

Coming up:
Continuing the disparate theme, this Thursday gives us—me—what I’ve been waiting for ever since I treated myself to fifth row tickets and the meet-and-greet special: Lindsey Stirling!

;o)

Music Review: Lindsey Stirling’s Brave Enough

For those people who don’t know—and should know better—Lindsey Stirling is a violinist who fuses classical with modern music, such as dubstep and other forms of EDM. She also happens to dance while playing, which is a huge part of the draw, but for me first and foremost is the fact she’s a great composer. As I mentioned in a previous blog, one of the songs on her last album, Take Flight, if it was stripped of everything except violin and piano, could be considered one of the best classical compositions of the last fifty years.
In addition to that, this lady is just fun. Besides her amazing music videos—she was a film major in college—she has another YouTube channel of behind the scenes and tour stuff, where you get to know her so well you think she’s been your buddy for years. She’s a lady who personifies the term “adorable badass.” In fact, it might have been invented for her.
On to the new music. As should be expected, the top two songs off this album are the ones released early, which I’ve already reviewed. That feels like so long ago that I was a bit disappointed in my first listen of this album, thinking there was nothing that really slammed me until I remembered the previous two. Usually it takes a while for a song to really worm into my heart—okay, that’s a disgusting metaphor—which is why I decided to take some time, almost a month and maybe a hundred runthroughs, before writing this review.

Lost Girls
Gentle plucking gives way to a soft romantic theme, real purty. Then a completely unnecessary vocoder wastes a few seconds before the song bursts into a fast Celtic melody that would not be out of place in Riverdance. This sequence repeats a couple of times. I imagine this is a song Lindsey and her dancers will enjoy doing live; with the right choreo and background this could end up being as much fun as Roundtable Rival.
8.5/10

Brave Enough ft. Christina Perri
Christina’s voice is not bad, although nothing special either. But then I’m not really here for the vocals. One of those reasons is the penchant for a lack of respect to the art of rhyming; too many of these attempts don’t come close.
The music is so much better. I love when the violin plays the vocal melody, reinforcing it. This solo also sounds Celtic, and is the best part of the song. I wish it didn’t end so abruptly into the next verse, though, but at least the outro continues that deliciousness.
And when you realize exactly what the lyrics are about. . . it’s heartbreaking.
7.5/10

The Arena
Already reviewed here. Best song on the album.
10/10

The Phoenix
The easy opening goes a little too long before hitting the main melody, which is soft and beautiful as it climbs. A minute later it’s at full power, with a clashing of drums that feels like a gift to Drew, who will go crazy playing this live. There’s a lot to like here, especially the violin, though with so many different parts it feels a little uneven/unfocused to me.
8/10

Where Do We Go ft. Carah Faye
Right off the bat, gotta say I’m not liking this singer’s voice. She certainly has the talent, but the tonal quality. . . it sounds like she has a cold. It’s distracting, but I find the more I hear this song the less it bothers me, it’s that good.
The chorus, while simple, is powerful. “Where do we go when our prayers are answered but the answer is no?” In a way it’s almost a perfect song: simple in execution, deep in meaning. As good a “message” song as you’ll likely find.
9/10

Those Days ft. Dan + Shay
I was a little wary when told this would be country, but the opening sure didn’t sound like it. In fact, nothing here sounds country at all, to my everlasting relief; no twang in either the vocals or instruments. The music makes this sound like a romantic jaunty non-ballad, but it’s not, if you pay attention to the lyrics.
As always the song shines when we get to the instrumental solo, with Lindsey playing off the melody with much more enthusiasm than between the vocals. Nothing spectacular here, more of a cute interlude. I like the cut ending better than had it faded out.
8/10

Prism
Possibly the most electronic/techno song, with a fun melody amongst all the other stuff layered in here. In fact, there’s so much here it makes it hard to describe. This is the kind of song where each person could invent their own dance moves for it, but since I’ve seen it live, I can’t get the image of Lindsey shaking her booty out of my mind. . .
9/10

Hold My Heart ft. ZZ Ward
A dramatic start gives way to dramatic vocals and violin melody. It’s somehow playful and heavy at the same time. The theme of being a strong woman who still wants love is powerful. On a personal note, there’s more of my pet peeve of misfiring on rhymes, which lessens my enjoyment.
7.5/10

Mirage ft. Raja Kumari
I have a love/hate relationship with Indian music, as I much prefer a sitar to vocals. The violin opening is wonderful, and Lindsey does make what I’m assuming is Excalibur sound like a sitar at times. I’d like to see this in concert just to find out if that’s her doing the extremely fast picking in the middle. The vocals are more melodic than atonal, thankfully. There’s a playful part where it seems the voice and the violin are having a discussion. But even though it’s playful it doesn’t get much further than cute.
7.5/10

Don’t Let This Feeling Fade ft. Rivers Cuomo & Lecrae
Hate rap, hate autotune. Best for me not to attempt a review of this.
0/0

First Light
At first glance this is an instrumental reminiscent of previous songs that were fun but didn’t make as much of an impression, for example Heist and Night Vision from the last album. But somehow this one is better. Chalk it up to experience; less frenetic, more polished. With alternating slow verses and heavily syncopated chorus, this is an amusing and enjoyable jam.
8.5/10

Love’s Just a Feeling ft. Rooty
This lady has a wonderful bluesy voice, and the violin is delicious. The chorus slows to showcase the vocals, and after it comes the inevitable bigger dance section, all fitting together very well.
With that said, this would get a higher score if the attempts at rhyming weren’t so atrocious.
8/10

Something Wild ft. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
Already reviewed here. Second best song on the album. Lovely. Speaking of the video, I love how Lindsey filmed Andrew doing the rhythmic clapping. And that’s the first time I’ve seen Lindsey in jeans. . .
9.5/10

Gavi’s Song
For those of you not aware, Gavi was Lindsey’s best friend and keyboardist, who passed away last year, just before the start of recording this album, of complications from the chemo that treated his lymphoma. And it happened after he’d become cancer-free and everything was optimistic, which makes it all the harder.
This may be a simple violin piece with gentle piano under, but that’s what makes it so lovely. Lindsey has said she began writing this with Gavi, so it obviously had a different meaning to it at the time, but as a dirge—only the second I’ve ever liked—it’s spectacular, a fitting remembrance of one of the most important people in her life.
At the end the melody is played as if far away, coming through an old radio or gramophone; I choose to believe this is her interpretation of how it would sound in heaven. . .
9/10

Target Exclusives
Waltz
The title does not lie. The start is all violin, leading into electronica supporting the melody as it swirls around the dance floor. Feels simple, but there’s more involved here than is first apparent, soaring in the same way Beyond the Veil does near the end.
9/10

Afterglow
This is as old-school new age as I’ve heard from Lindsey, with a touch of techno. It’s so playful—reminiscent of Electric Daisy Violin—that I can see dance students using this for their performances. It’s too bad there’s little chance this’ll be played live, as I imagine it would be a ton of fun for Kit and his keyboards.
8.5/10

Powerlines
This has another dramatic beginning, but by the time it settles to just violin and fingersnaps it’s nothing but fun. After that the violin melody feels subtly Arabic, not as much as Yeah! but still noticeable. At some points there’s a bubbly playful keyboard, which somehow manages to fit right in, along with the high female vocalization reminiscent of Take Flight.
8.5/10

Forgotten Voyage
at the start this sounds like a continuation of the previous, then jumps into a slightly techno version of a Riverdance-style tune. Lindsey has mentioned that she thought “Space pirates!” about this one, but I don’t hear it.
Can’t help but point out that the extras were more vintage Lindsey, the more playful side of her musicality.
8.5/10

Entire album: 8.5/10

Bonus: The Only Pirate At the Party audiobook
Since I’ve already reviewed her book, this will only involve the vocal version, which I braved even though audiobooks usually put me to sleep.
Right away—I mean at the very start—it shows why in some limited cases this version can be better than the written: music! Not one of my favorite of her songs, but it proves its point. Another of the few ways audiobooks can be better is the way she yells “Scarfman!” with such joy, or the voice she uses when playing her alter-ego Phelba.
But as fun as that is, it can also be painful. When you read in the book “I hope I never have to hire another keyboard player,” it’s hard enough, but to hear her voice breaking as she reads it aloud. . . it’s heartrending, even more so at the end with a special page dedicated to Gavi.
But in general this is more fun than reading it, simply because you can hear the joy in her voice as she remembers certain good memories, as well as her sometimes hammy attempts at accents. I’m heartened to know that, as crazy as I might get, I won’t be the craziest person in the room; there’s a certain freedom to it. (As Lindsey says in her concerts, “Crazy in a good way!”)
BTW, if there’s a sequel it should be called The Only Pirate With a Pedicure.

;o)

Music Review: Three New Songs From Lindsey Stirling

The Arena
My favorite Lindsey Stirling song is Take Flight, which if you strip down to just violin and piano is one of the best classical compositions of the last 50 years; yes, I love it that much, and it’s that good. My second is Roundtable Rival, which is simply a fun fusion of Celtic and folk fiddle. But I have a new #3, and that’s The Arena, which at its most basic is a tango! Howz that for musical diversity?
It’s amazing to me how even though I have no music training I can still identify verse, bridge, and chorus in an instrumental song. It’s particularly easy here: the slightly sinister-sounding intro—reminiscent of the closing notes of Jonatha Brooke’s What You Don’t Know, but not as much as the start of Shatter Me—gives way to a violin/percussion duet in the verses before moving into a small bridge with more poignant strings and four sparse but perfect piano notes. Then. . . kick it! Hard rock chorus! Thankfully the main violin melody is never overshadowed when more instruments join in here, though I wonder if Lindsey does all her orchestration; I would love to know how those four piano notes came about, because they’re spot-on.
Lindsey continues her love of high notes, but there’s also some cello-like passages that fit right with the tango theme. The last bridge has some “thicker” notes that make for possibly the most romantic sound I’ve ever heard from her, even more so than All Of Me.
And rather than telling you about the video, just watch it.

 

Something Wild (Featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness)
I’ve never heard of this singer, whether he was out of the city or not. A simple violin/piano intro, surprisingly short, leads into a just as surprising soft verse, where I was not at all convinced his was the right voice for this, but when it gets powerful in the chorus it fits perfectly, to the point where I actually thought “Now I get it.”
Lindsey writes such amazing hooks, which is basically what people call the main melody nowadays. (Or should I have said peeps?) While the song in general is excellent hard pop, the violin parts have a lovely Celtic feel, especially when it’s in the lead instead of supporting the vocal melody. It took a few listens to realize that when he goes into the “Oooooooo” vocals she’s playing exactly the same melody on the violin, an amazing-sounding duet.
The chorus is much stronger than the verses lyrically as well. The main line of “Something wild calls you home” fits in perfectly with what I know of the movie this will be in. . . or anything with dragons, I guess. I particularly liked the frozen-ocean rhyme.
Here’s a video of a live performance; the sound is not great, but it gives a good sense of soft/hard musical dynamic.

 

Firefly
This is completely different, as it’s the first time Lindsey has sung on one of her own songs, not counting in the shower.
Lindsey is a good though not yet great singer. I can hear the potential there, but more vocal practice is needed to unleash it. . . which is not to say someone like Britney Spears is better, but I do believe Lindsey has higher standards. (Not that I’ve seen much of the Speared one, but I’ll bet Lindsey dances better too.) More to the point, the song is excellent; after some painful rhymes in Shatter Me, this fits together more organically, especially the main line: “Find the color in the black and white.”
In the first chorus she’s singing almost a cappella, and it’s a beautiful choice, especially with that tiny bit of reverb that makes it sound like she’s doing her own backup. Lyrically it’s a pretty simple song, with only four lines that don’t repeat; my favorite, fitting the song’s theme in more ways than one, is “A tiny fire makes me come alive.”
IMG_1042

;o)

Music Review: Shannon Curtis’ Creationism

Another new album from the prolific LuvTunGrl, as I call her (and have to explain to her every time). Jamie Hill, who is Shannon’s husband and musical partner in crime, will tell you how much I prefer acoustic—just the singer and the piano in this case—which is why I think he adds these beats and whirly and other sound effects: to piss me off. Thankfully Shannon’s voice carries the songs so that I can ignore most of that stuff.

Who Do You Think You Are?
A perfect example of what I said above. Lyrically I don’t find this as good as most of hers, but since it’s got great music and is basically a showcase for her vocals, who can complain? Especially when the chorus rises so deliciously. . .
4/5

She Writes It
A slow start to this surprisingly poppy song, but like the first one it’s all in the chorus. The lyrics are a beautiful twist on the girl power theme. My fave on the album. Could be a power anthem for female writers.
5/5

Elevate
For the most part the beat is the only music behind Shannon’s voice, which is both good and bad. This one is too sparse to really get into, despite her breathy tone.
3/5

Little Life
Another sparse tune; without much of a melody it’s hard to remember.
3/5

The Stillness
Is that a Theremin? (Not according to the artist herself, but how cool would that have been?) I thought it was a sweet little love song at first, but I have to confess I’m not at all sure what’s it’s about by the end.
4/5

Roaring Flame
This is the most driving song, and oddly it’s the most obvious love song. About overcoming obstacles and all that, which you wouldn’t expect from the title.
4.5/5

Let’s Pretend
Very melodic tune that makes me think of little girl best friends.
4.5/5

Come Away
This one is as gentle as a lullaby, though it reads more like a love proposal. Sweet is indeed what Shannon does best.
4/5

Last Night Ever
This is Shannon’s second tune on the end of the world theme; the other, Lay Me Down, is one of my faves, and this one is up there too. Don’t leave this plane of existence with regrets. (Woulda given this one a perfect 5 if it didn’t have that weird beat that was almost like another attempted melody.)
4.5/5

Particle Collision
Ignoring the title, this is reminiscent of Shannon’s earlier work, with the musicbox-type intro, spiced with a cello.
3.5/5

So overall, and going extra fractional, I’m giving this album 4.25/5. The only downside is there’s nothing here that can compete, or rather compare to, “I Know, I Know,” though “She Writes It” comes close.

;o)

Music Review: Meiko’s Moving Day

Haven’t done a music review in a long time, but with Kari Kimmel, Shannon Curtis, Anna Nalick, and Lindsey Stirling all close to releasing or already releasing a new album, I couldn’t resist starting a new series. First up is Meiko.

I’ve known Meiko since her days of waitressing at Hotel Café (Though she never remembers my name). I particularly enjoyed her early work, back when every song was a revelation. Her label days had plenty of great songs, but also quite a few that I listened to once and never again. Hope that changes here.

I Do
Like so many of her songs, it’s simple and personal; amazing how she can come up with so many permutations to that formula. It’s softer than most of her tunes; I can see it as a wedding song, especially for the line “I can’t wait to take your name.” Love the addition of some non-obtrusive but supportive strings. 4/5

Hold On
Another slow song, though this one has plenty of percussion; sounds like steel guitar doing most of the melody. Didn’t feel at all special until the chorus. 3/5

Perfect Fit
Instant 50s vibe. More cutesy than anything else. 3/5

Big City
Behind some sparse guitar picking she lets her voice take command more than in the previous three. Even with background vox and a beat joining in, her vocals grab your attention. This is the most lyrically complex song, with her struggling to trust the guy when he goes out at night. 4/5

I Can’t Tell
Some 70s funk leads off this tune, which has a little bit of a dreamy quality in the chorus. A more playful tune that her usual.. 3/5

We All Fall Down
This is more vintage Meiko, with the fast vocals. The barely-there strings elevate this especially simple song. The lyrics are trying to be uplifting, but feels like there’s something missing to it. 3/5

Pretty Easy
Another sparse slow song, allowing her vocals to shine. The lyrics don’t quite fit with the music; take the line “I want you to stay, so I can be the one who walks away.” Harkens back to her early days, when she was singing about exes. Too long of an outro. 2/5

For the Road
More upbeat than most on this album, though still nothing like her bigger hits, this is a song about missing her loved one while being away doing concerts (a staple for touring bands since Journey’s “Faithfully”). This is more what people who only listen to the hits have come to expect from her. 4/5

Little Baby
This is the softest I’ve ever heard her sing, but it confused me.
It sounds almost like a lullaby, but once the Jamison line comes in you know the title’s not literal. It isn’t till she sings “I want to get back to the way we started” that it clears up somewhat. The beginning of the outro features a weird-sounding instrument that almost took me out of this song, but it finishes with a nice soft flourish. 3/5

Wow, that was short and quick!
The first two songs are more downbeat than her usual, and I don’t mean compared to “Leave the Lights On” or “Piano Song.” Even her early classics like “Walk Away” and “Said and Done” were faster than these. There’s a definite theme here, at least for the first half, as you’d expect from the title. After years in the City of Beautiful Angels, she married and moved to Nashville, so it figures a lot of these songs are about not just love, but spending their lives together. (Not all, though.) What hasn’t changed, thankfully, is her signature voice and vocal inflection, which I imagine is the reason most people enjoy her music.
While this in general is what we’ve come to expect from Meiko, there’s one thing that disappoints me: no song stood out. All are good, but I can’t pinpoint any that I believed was great; the closest was probably “Big City” or “For The Road.”
3.5/5

;o)