audiotrack Perennial Favorites

reviewed by Jill Hill

Published in Issue No. 16 ~ September, 1998

The Entertainment Weekly review was harsh on this band, as was Rolling Stone. But not harsh enough. I actually experienced a moment of complete emotional dissonance while listening to track 3, “Ghost of Stephen Foster.”

It’s an indescribable track. It opens with some sort of flying carpet music that is most unpleasant and jarring to the listener. Then it moves into some sort of bluesy thing with a collection of the sourest sounding horns I have ever heard. The small tinny kazoo quality of the horns is carried throughout the CD, but most notably here. It is hard for me to believe that a simple sax and trumpet could make such a strained, bleating noise. The lyrics are dumb – but even this could be overlooked it the rest of the song wasn’t so damn objectionable.

For me, however, the most murderous aspect of the CD was the female singer, Kathryn Walen. She tries to imitate the signature vocal style of Billie Holiday, yet in this case imitation is the worst sort of compliment. Billie was a blues Goddess who remains unrivaled (check out the Quintessential Billie Holiday). Her voice had depth and a richness that carried the heartbreak of the world. Walen’s tiny, thin, reedy voice makes a parody of Billie’s – and that is something I can not forgive.

Buy this CD if you must, but I wouldn’t. Just my thoughts.

account_box More About

Jill Hill lives with some kids, some dogs, writes, and manages a restaurant where she tries out her new CD's. She listens to a variety of music, from Classical to Blues, but tries to stay away from most rap. In her words: "I am always on the look out for a new band or singer/songwriter that I will like. I like a CD that does not grow old and weary sounding, which mean I don't want buy a CD that can be found on the used CD sale table a month later. One of my favorite CD's is Neal Young's Everyone Knows this is Nowhere. My favorite writer is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and my favorite novel of his Of Love and Other Demons. X-Files is about the only TV I watch. I do not watch sitcoms and do not like music inspired by sitcoms. I'd rather listen to a sampled rap version of the Jetsons theme song."