marquee, music, Dire Straits, Wiltern, Wiltern Theater, Dire Straits Legacy, Wilshire Blvd, Western Ave, concert,

Dire Straits Legacy at the Wiltern

marquee, music, Dire Straits, Wiltern, Wiltern Theater, Dire Straits Legacy, Wilshire Blvd, Western Ave, concert,

On a pleasant Southern California Tuesday afternoon I was on the bus going home after physical therapy when I checked my emails and saw I had one from the Wiltern Theater. Seems they remembered I saw a Mark Knopfler concert there and figured I might like to see Dire Straits Legacy the following night, a band made up mostly of guys from the original group but with a different lead, as Mark was into his solo career and didn’t want to do the old stuff anymore. The real surprise was they were offering me a free ticket, which as I found out from talking after the show was not unusual. More on that later, though.
Of course I had nothing else to do on a Wednesday night—who does, right? Shut up—and the Wiltern is the easiest theater to get to, being across the street from a subway stop, so why not?
And indeed the next night, after the customary stop for a bean and cheese burrito at Juanita’s, followed by Miss Kitty’s soft serve, I made my way into the theater, early as always. I was surprised to find they sold Powerade at the venue, though not shocked that it was five bucks for a tiny bottle. Remembering what had happened with the exploding Sprite bottle at the Lindsey Stirling show, I took it with only a small grumble at the ridiculous price.
A bigger grumble came from my seat, which was a high chair, the kind you get in the bar section of a restaurant, that makes you feel like a little kid. Hoping my back wouldn’t hurt after, or during, I swallowed it up by remembering I got in here free.
Okay, time to take in the stage. On the left side I saw two keyboard stations, one behind the other on a platform, then what looked to be a holding pen for brass, mostly saxes. The drums of course were middle back, and there was a percussion setup on the right side of the rear. The middle and right front had guitar stands. The only thing that really stood out was the chimes in the percussion kit, with congas in the center. And it didn’t look like there was a screen at the rear, so there wouldn’t be any videos to distract me.
Rather than 8PM, the flickering of lights didn’t happen till about 8:20. But finally it was music time.

1. Private Investigations
Can’t believe it took me so long to suss out which song this was, as it’s one of my faves. On the other hand, I’m not sure how faithful that intro was to the original. Anyhoo, one of the finest examples of music noir, played flawlessly.
2. Walk of Life
Boy, that’s a loud mix, and this is the song to show it. You may not recognize the name, but I’m sure you’ve heard this, as it’s one of the most upbeat songs ever. Recently heard it on a commercial for some pill. Not one of my faves, but no surprise to hear it here.
3. Set Me Up?
Not sure I got the title right, but it doesn’t matter because this one wasn’t familiar at all. (Research shows a song called Setting Me Up from the first album, but if you came to read this you probably already know that.)
4. Down to the Waterline
At least I know this one, even if it’s not one of my faves. This shows perfectly that, like Rush, Dire Straits songs were meant to be played live more than as a studio offering.
5. Tunnel of Love
In five songs, the guy taking Mark’s place has made guitar changes between each one.
This is one of my faves, but the intro was weird—before the waltz started—and the outro was lacking. Hyped myself up too much waiting for the piano roll. . . but with all that, still amazing to hear it live. Back in college I took a screenwriting class, and one assignment was to make a music video script, and this is the song I chose. I still have all the visuals in my head, and they played like a movie as I watched the guys on stage. . .
6. Romeo + Juliet
As always, I’m proud of myself for nailing the two finger snaps. The soprano sax outro was new. This was one of the few oldies Mark played at his concert, but that was so long ago—even if it was in the same venue—I can’t remember enough to compare. Let’s just say it’s as heartbreaking as always.
7. Sultans of Swing
The original, the one that put Dire Straits on the map. This front guy is trying very hard to be Mark, but he just wasn’t there on this one. But what he lacks in guitar chops—he’s still excellent, but can’t touch the master—he makes up in stage presence, as Mark isn’t the most demonstrative on stage. All to say that this was pretty enjoyable to watch and hear, especially the soft piano outro into the full blast finish.
8. Your Favorite Trick
Knew it as soon as the sax came out, but the conga intro fooled me. As soulful as Dire Straits ever got, and one of their most underrated songs. I even used the line about the garbage trucks in a short story years ago.
9. Jesus Trick?
The guys are apparently debuting their own song. Ideal time for a restroom break.
10. Another original
Back for this, but all I can think of is how these chairs are killing, not my back, but my knees.
11. The Bug
It still amuses me that people think this song has always been country. Nope, I enjoy saying, it’s a Dire Straits original. Not one I listen to, though. (Guess that makes me the windshield. . . never mind.)
12. On Every Street
This is the heaviest slow song ever. Like the previous, it’s from the one album Dire Straits made after their massive Brothers in Arms, which couldn’t help but be a letdown both commercially and musically, but I suppose this is one of the best cuts from it. In this particular iteration there was an awesome soprano sax outro, the entire band going faster and faster until there was nowhere left to go and mercifully ended.
13. Telegraph Road
Always wanted to hear all fourteen minutes of this live, and it did not disappoint. If I had to name one highlight, this is it.
14. Brothers in Arms
Name that tune in one note. I love this song, and it’s a natural closer, though the frontman didn’t come close to matching the soul in Mark’s voice. The brass guy was impressive, playing four instruments: alto sax, tenor sax, soprano sax, and flute.

Encores
15. Money for Nothing
They leave for a while, then come back acting like our cheers had convinced them. As always I’m amused by people in the crowd who leave at this point, not knowing better. As far as this iconic song goes, no one attempted to be Sting, but then the famous hook is enough.
16. Owner of a Lonely Heart
The bass player, who’s apparently famous, wrote this song that did sound somewhat familiar. He’s singing it, starting by saying they were courting disaster by doing this live. And of course they screw up right away. I found it amusing to see a drumstick used on a tambourine.
17. So Far Away
A thoroughly underrated song, glad they played it, though I would have thought such a slow piece would go in the middle.
18. Portobello Belle
They couldn’t leave without paying tribute to that Irish lass with the poisonous name. Of all the songs I sung along to, I sung this one the loudest.

Yes, eighteen songs—four of them as encore—in two and a half hours, no intermission. Once it was well and truly done I fullbacked my way through the exiting crowd—I was one of the youngest, though that’s not saying much—got out on the street, crossed it, took the photo you see above, and dropped into the subway. While waiting for it to take off I spoke to an older couple and found out they’d also received free tickets. Huh.
So yeah, that was fun. I know I didn’t convey how much enjoyment I had, but I’d definitely do it again. . .

;o)

Music Monday: Closer

Husband and wife duo from Australia—she’s the sister of Butterfly Boucher—with incredibly catchy tunes. A lot of fun live, especially when she holds the toy grand piano. I think this is their most romantic song, and that’s saying a lot.
Fave lines:
“You see the sun, I see the burning.”
“The closer my heart is, the further my head is from you. . .”

;o)

Why Concerts Are Still Worthwhile

My favorite Rush song is Bravado.
But it wasn’t when I first heard it. Sometimes you return to a song years later and it gives you a completely different feeling. But in this case I knew exactly what made me love it after dismissing it so many years ago: the live version, specifically the Rush in Rio DVD.
Perhaps the crowd played a part in it, but there’s quite a difference in musicality. Geddy sings with much more emotion. Alex’s solo seems sparse, more honest, beautiful individual licks that build into a gorgeous resolve. And his outro is Mark Kopfler-esque in its heartbreaking passion.
Taken altogether, the studio version feels sterile and emotionless in comparison, which is a bit hilarious when I realize how much I love the Gregorian chant version.
In a completely different example, Take Flight is my favorite Lindsey Stirling song, just for the music alone but also because it’s easily the most visually exciting track on the Live in London DVD. Even the music video is superb. When I saw the new live version of this song on YouTube, it didn’t look quite as stunning, but it made a difference because I knew I’d be seeing it live in a few months. And indeed, when the show finally got to the Greek Theater and I was in the second row, it was so much more inspirational, special, whatever adjective you’d like to choose.
I will admit I went quite a few years in my late twenties and early thirties without seeing many live shows, until Raining Jane caught my attention about fifteen years ago. From then I’ve been to hundreds of shows in Los Angeles, in places like Hotel Café, Molly Malone’s, Coffee Gallery, and quite a few that no longer exist. Other than an occasional headache when the mix was too loud, I’ve never regretted it. And can you think of a better way to meet your favorite musicians, especially without it seeming stalkerish? Just about every CD I’ve bought in the past 10 years is autographed, and some of those favorite musicians are now friends I have lunch with all the time. Heck, their kids know me!
So this is for all the musicians who think it’s no longer worthwhile to play out, but also to the fans, who should demand their favorite artists show up!

;o)

Lindsey Stirling, concert,

Lindsey Stirling Evanescence Concert, part 3

Time for the main event, though if you tell Amy I said that I’ll make up stuff about your teenage years.

The Arena
Lindsey’s biggest hit—at least video-count wise—from Brave Enough opens the show with a montage of her career, ups and downs, all the way to Dancing With the Stars. I’m happy the previous videos and special effects are gone, having never liked or understood them. More importantly, the first song is always where I settle in and let the experience wash over me, to the point where I sometimes forget to breathe. I still have a problem with her playing the secondary line in the chorus, though; as before, you can barely hear the main melody on the backing track.

Moon Trance
I think this is the third version of this famous song to be on tour, featuring new headstones—except for Piers Morgan, of course—and less elaborate zombiefying. (Did I just invent that word?) Had it not been for the visuals, and maybe the almost-creepy pizzicato, this might be mistaken for a joyful song.

Shadows
Lindsey is honored to be in our presence; she said so. She does a lot of the same moves as before, though without her shadow backup dancers. Instead there’s artsy-beautiful fluid shots on the giant screens, lovely but not as much fun as the previous iteration.

She’s looking at me. . . sideways. A little creepy. . .

Shatter Me
As I’d predicted before the first show, it was indeed Amy Lee doing the vocals live. As much as I love her, it takes some getting used to after hearing Lzzy Hale’s harder-edged throaty roar so many times.

Basically these are here just to prove I did indeed have second-row seats, you blasphemous unbelievers!

Lost Girls
As expected, the sequel follows. This is a perfect example of how the whole show felt a little bit. . . less than the Brave Enough tour. This is not a knock, as I’ll gladly watch Lindsey live anytime, but the feel is just different, more stripped down than the previous versions.

Take Flight
I finally get to see my favorite song live! I still like the DVD version better, but this was more enjoyable than the second interpretation. Seeing Lindsey so high up in the air, like an angel topping a Christmas tree, makes me think of a long ago video when she was introducing her first dancers: Steve-o lifts her up above his head and she lets out a hilarious yelp. This was much higher, but I guess she got used to it.

Crystallize
The only song she never misses, now without limbo backbend.

Roundtable Rival
Crowd fave, of course. Everybody clap your hands!

Hold My Heart
Should have expected ZZ Ward to show up, but I didn’t; this was more surprising than when she did it on the Brave Enough tour. Lindsey only did one magic trick this time, and the colorful costumes were missing, but it’s always fun to watch her pop up from under the curtain, and then hear her after, talking about how she’s a witch rather than a magician.

First Light
After some nerd-credential talk, she asks everyone for their lights, fitting with this song. Rather than use the flashlight on my phone, I put on my lighter app—it even waves in the breeze—but I doubt it could be seen from the stage.
An unsung hero of a song, the new live one from Brave Enough that got its video release during this tour. I always forget to list this when asked for my faves, but it’s definitely up there. Only got a snippet of a vid before she ran away. . .

Mirage
No elaborate Indian costumes, no levitating chair. Same background vids. Just pure fun, although I did notice it was cut short, and there was no telltale “squeal” that is my favorite note of the entire song.

Don’t Let This Feeling Fade
Still my least favorite song, and done in its entirety this time, unlike the Brave Enough tour when it was paired with Roundtable. I’d be okay with an instrumental version of this. . .

Beyond the Veil
A little weird to hear this song as the encore rather than the opener, but it does kick things back up after the usual “let’s pretend it’s over, then come back” routine. It’s certainly one of the most dramatic-sounding songs in her arsenal, and is a perfect lead-in for the only cover of the night.

Phantom of the Opera Medley
Nice to see her bring back this one from her early days. She adds too many flourishes for it to be a singalong, but considering the voices around me that’s probably a good thing.

So there it is. This was not as majestic as the Brave Enough show, but then it was never going to be, due to a shorter running time to accommodate the other two acts. There also wasn’t enough time to put on the more elaborate stagecraft, so no complaints here. Evanescence made it a musical extravaganza rather than just a Lindsey Stirling night, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Took me three hours to get home, mostly due to having to wait for the observatory bus, but that’s another story. . .

;o)

cello, Cellogram

Lindsey Stirling Evanescence Concert, part 2

When last we tuned into this soap opera, I’d just left the Meet ‘n’ Greet tent to get into the actual Greek Theater through the VIP entrance. (By now the VIP “oooooh!” of it had vanished.) Had fun with the people at security, as I can always tell what kind of company it is by how loose the employees are. I thought they were going to run the magic. . . er, magnetic wand over me a few more times just to keep the fun going, which wouldn’t have been a bad idea, but instead I went in and climbed to the top of the seats, where I got this view:

But after that it was more waiting around. I don’t know at what time was the Meet ‘n’ Greet at other venues, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was earlier here so that Lindsey could spend time with her El Lay peeps. I didn’t know till the next day that iJustine and Superwoman were there, which would have gone a long way in my quest to take photos with all the princesses from Cassie’s Disney video. (Got Cassie’s a month ago, and obviously Lindsey. Where you at, Ro?) Also in attendance was Whitney Avalon, whom I regret missing even more, speaking of princesses and their rap battles.
Having seen the set schedule from a cheerful security guard, I knew how much time I had to kill before heading to my seat. The burrito was still doing its job of holding hunger at bay, but I was thirsty, so I got a $5 bottle of Sprite. . . the worst decision I’ve ever made, but more on that later. In addition to security guards and actual police, I spent a while chatting with the Mercedes-Benz guy, who once he learned I didn’t drive took off his salesman persona. As always I find it interesting what people visiting El Lay want to see while they’re in town; his choice was Malibu and Universal Studios. We talked about several other cities we’d both been to, but that didn’t waste nearly as much time as I’d hoped.
Eventually I could stall no longer and made it to my seat, but not before showing my ticket to prove I belonged in that section; apparently the VIP laminate on my chest wasn’t enough. The good news was obviously the view from the second row, but the bad news was that these weren’t permanent comfortable seats, but rather basically folding chairs. Hello, here I come, backache! To my amusement I found myself seated next to the boisterous guys from Utah whom I’d shared a table with at the Meet ‘n’ Greet, but any hilarity that might have ensued quickly vanished when I took that ($5) bottle of Sprite out of my backpack and twisted the cap. . .
Yep, you guessed it: the soda exploded. The sugary liquid did not get into my hair, but most of my arms, the bag, and especially my left boot got drenched. By the end I might have gotten $2 worth of that damned stuff. And it took a solid hour for janitorial staff to come over and help with the sticky floor, by which time it had all dried, of course.
Luckily the opening act, Cellogram, made me forget all that, at least for a while. My initial thought was that these musicians were a variation of The Piano Guys, but this cellist is even more crazy! (In a good way, of course.) And it was a wild man banging on the cajon rather than a sophisticated-looking individual behind a piano.

I hate spotlights.
I can’t remember a duo ever having this much energy, and fun. The highlight had to be the finale, part of which featured Zeppelin’s Kashmir, where they were joined by a lady I quickly figured out was the Evanescence guitarist. She was a bit of a ham but always willing to play along with the shenanigans, especially lying on her back along with Dave Eggar—the cellist—for some final jamming. Those of you who saw my blog about my favorite guitarists—yeah right, check that out in the archives—might remember I had a bunch of female shredders on the list, and just like that here’s another one.
So, what to do in between acts, other than cleaning up my seat, my arms, and my shorts? Wander around to see if I could spot anyone I knew. And did I ever! Hey, Phelba in the house! Luckily she’s a lot calmer and nicer when Lindsey’s not around.

Didn’t take long for Evanescence to come out, and I can’t describe much here because I was in the moment. I remember my faves—Bring Me To Life, My Heart Is Broken, My Immortal—but otherwise I just let Amy’s voice wash over me. Of course I couldn’t let the moment of Lindsey joining in for Hi-Lo pass by, though I was expecting her from the other side, so she managed to surprise me anyway.

Those of you who know me would not be surprised to find I instantly fell in love with Jen the guitarist. I found myself looking at her rather than Amy a lot of the time—hey, I already know how beautiful Amy is—and was really surprised to find her with her hands in the air, almost like she was conducting, but I knew better. Was she actually playing a Theremin? I couldn’t really hear it, but what else could she be doing? (Since then I’ve seen a video where she shows off her Theremin-playing skills, so yeah, although I’d never seen such a modern-looking instrument.)
So this was the best I could do as far as Amy is concerned. In case you didn’t see it the first time, I REALLY hate spotlights!

Eventually it was time for the encore, and I had the phone at the ready, because I knew that in the past Lindsey had joined in here. Not this time; instead Dave Eggar came down from the orchestra with his highly maneuverable cello to play the lead string part. Since I’d enjoyed his set, I did not stop recording.

So even though I came for Lindsey, and Evanescence was more of the cream icing on the cream cake, I still felt wrung out after that set. Hopefully the break in between would be bigger this time. Ended up talking to the guy at the VIP entrance, who remembered me because of the shirt I had on. . . remember that from the photo in the previous blog? As I said, you get a good feeling for a venue by the way the employees act with you; felt like we were long-time buds, and he didn’t laugh at my exploding soda too much.
Okay, finally we get to what you’ve all been waiting for. . . or rather, it’ll be on the next installment. I’m not really that cruel, but then Lindsey’s concert figures to have the most to write about, so it makes sense. . . really, I’m not cackling and evilly twiddling fingers or anything like that. . . swear!

;o)

Lindsey Stirling Evanescence Concert, part 1

As I’m on the bus heading for downtown Los Angeles, I realize how different I feel this time as opposed to my first Lindsey Stirling concert, when I was basically a nervous wreck knowing I was going to meet her, even though I’d only known about her for approximately six months. Now, a full two years after that, my fifth time seeing her live, and having spoken to her in a more casual setting a few months ago, I figured things would be far different. . . or at least I hoped. I wasn’t sure at all.
First stop: Juanita’s of Olvera Street for a giant bean and cheese burrito, fueling up for a long day and night. Also, I knew I wouldn’t get hungry till late, and I was right; I didn’t eat again till I got home at two in the morning. . . and that was cereal. The owner’s son is a Lindsey fan, but he wasn’t there, so I couldn’t boast about my second row seats (not that I would have). From there it was a quick stop at Kitty’s for the usual post-burrito vanilla soft serve before heading back to Union Station and the subway ride to East Hollywood.
Second stop: Vermont/Sunset, waiting for the DASH observatory bus to take me to the venue, along with a bunch of people who worked there at the Greek Theater, tonight’s venue. Amazing they had to be there a good five hours before the show! Other people were going to that beautiful lump of white up on the horizon. . .


Thanks to concise instructions in the email, I knew exactly where to go for the VIP Meet ‘n’ Greet tent. Had to take a photo, because the background of brown hills and shady trees made the setting look like anything but Los Angeles.

After a wait, then a security search, we were allowed into the tent, where people lined up for free food and drink—which was mostly bags of popcorn and lemonade, so typical Lindsey—and getting their faces painted. (I saw a video where the Evanescence Meet ‘n’ Greet featured champagne, so I definitely made the right choice, despite not getting to meet Jen the guitarist.) Having been through such events before, I grabbed a seat at a table near the stage first, which might have been the best move I made all day. Besides, I’d just eaten a giant bean and cheese burrito, so it’s not like I was hungry. On the other hand, free popcorn. . .
At a couple of tables there were giant versions of Connect 4 and Jenga, which nobody was playing, probably a good thing, as I dropped a circle in the Connect 4 later and it was LOUD! Instead there was really small talk as we waited to get in line to get our photos take with the diva of the hour. When that finally occurred, we were herded back outside for a small security speech: no lifting, no heavy squeezing, don’t even take your cell phones out. That was disappointing, as I’d wanted to do a Dancing With the Stars pose with her, but couldn’t show the photo to her. It probably wouldn’t have mattered, though, as there was no cell service in this canyon of Griffith Park! WHAT?
I jumped out of line to say Hi to Kit and show him some photos I’d taken of him at his show a few months before—more on that later. Also there was Andy, who’s the lighting guy on tour. Managed to talk to him about some lighting stuff I’d seen at a few Rush concerts, which was fun for a while until I could see he was getting bored. Yeah, I frequently overstay my welcome, but then we guys don’t understand hints, right, ladies?
So remember how at the start I said this time was going to be different? It wasn’t. I don’t remember what I said to Lindsey; I don’t even remember if there was a hug. If they hadn’t sent me a link to the photo I probably would have forgotten that happened too. It was different in that it was much shorter, as in hello photo next. Part of it was due to her having signed the posters beforehand, but there was no time for conversation here, which would have been a bummer had I been able to remember what I’d hypothetically said.


Like my shirt?
Then it was back into the tent for a wheel of fortune-type game and a two-song concert; I can’t even remember which order they took place in. A couple of people won selfies, but mostly it was ask Lindsey questions. Since I was seated so close to the stage I tried to get a photo of Lindsey, but I’m a professional photographer, not a cellphone one. Oddly enough, I got a decent shot of Kit, whom at this pace I’ll be shooting a lot more times than Lindsey. (See previous blog of Moonlit Kit concert photos.)

Lindsey, Kit, and Andy the Lighting Guy on cajon played “Something Wild” and the mashup of “Roundtable Rival/Don’t Let This Feeling Fade.” I very much want a full instrumental version of the latter song, which I am simply putting here on the one in a billion chance Lindsey reads this.

Once that was done and Lindsey paid off the selfies, the party broke up and we were invited to stick around or go into the venue. I did a little of both, talking to a few people, especially the guy I was supposed to go to the Holocaust museum with last week, but who was so late I had to leave for another appointment. He had a huge brag book of his photos, and luckily he grew a bigger audience, allowing me to slip away.
In the tent were some posters from Lindsey’s past shows, including an image I love: Steve-o carrying her around on his shoulder during Master of Tides. Since he’s playing a pirate here, and she’s on his shoulder. . . doesn’t that make her the parrot?

After a while I got bored and went into the venue, where I would be bored even more, but that’s for next time. . .

;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)