Eye to Eye
2005: 12th Street Records 783707301303
I didnt get into this one on the first listen, nor the next several, because, despite the joy of hearing Deborah Bergs still-gorgeous voice and the musical confection she and Julian Marshall have to offer after all this time, the lyrical content is so intently domestic that its almost alienating to me. Over enough listenings that barrier was surmounted and the joys were there to be had.
This isnt a jump back to the 1980s nor a resumption of the musical direction last demonstrated by this odd pair of spiritsits just the reappearance of a character many years on older but still utterly recognizable, with stories to tell as well as still having that knack for gently quirky observation and unconventional-yet-compelling phrasing. And ah, they still do have that gift of melodic line, sung as well as played. If technological developments have affected their work at all, my ear cant discern it theyre as independent of era as they were in the 1980s. And anyway Bergs voice overrides most other impressions with the happy state of being only somewhat changed by timestill sublime, still a clean, friendly caress to the heart and mind.
Im still mulling over which track to call my favoritethe opening track is eventually extremely catchy, but the bunch from Fly Now to How Sweet It Was all become engrossingly familiar. The two-thirds silly, one-third profound Shoes is its own little throwback to Jabberwocky on Shakespeare Stole My Baby. Its a tribute to their work that Fly Now registered (belatedly) to me as referring to the 11 September 2001 World Trade Center attacks independently of the albums liner note regarding that fact. Mother of a Family is again quite family-focused but moves with such a slippery shuffle both rhythmically and melodically that it gets into a sneaky groove under the skin that Ive come to quite like it.
One So Unsuspecting cant have been an easy one to write or sing. But then I suppose the same could be said of How Sweet It Was. Perhaps that tells something about the title and the final track, which follows that pair. It certainly ends things with an open door ratherinconclusive but with a sense of forward motion.
Comments © 2008 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.