Sunday, 25 November 2012

October 2012 - Popular Music

Tori Amos
  • The Beekeeper
  • Garlands (from The Beekeeper DVD)
  • Gold Dust
Bryan Duncan - Mercy
Eskimo Joe - A Song Is A City
Patty Griffin - 1000 Kisses
Patty Griffin - Children Running Through
Missy Higgins - The Sound of White
Joni Mitchell - The Hissing of Summer Lawns
Tears for Fears - Raoul and the Kings of Spain

I finally completed the Joni Mitchell marathon, finishing with probably my favourite album.  I don't think it had the same impact as the equivalent Tori Amos listening exercise, simply because it was so much more spread out.  However, as well as listening to Hissing I did go back and listen to all the songs again, on shuffle, over the course of several days.

It certainly was interesting to hear the major shifts in Mitchell's voice, as well as the changes in style.  Another surprise was that some songs that I'm not very fond of seemed to work better when taken out of their usual album context.  One that particularly struck me was 'Lead Balloon' from Taming the Tiger, which frankly I usually think of as going down like a lead balloon.  For whatever reason, when it came on late in the shuffle I quite enjoyed it.

Bryan Duncan's Mercy has long been one of my favourite albums, and pretty close to my number one choice from the Christian contemporary music scene.  It's just that, until now, I've never owned a copy of it.  I can't even recall what brought it to mind during October, but after many years of thinking "I really ought to get that on CD", I snapped, logged onto eBay, and bought the first good-looking copy I found.

And it didn't let my memories down.  As far as I can gather, it was the biggest success of Bryan Duncan's career (the internet isn't so great at researching slightly obscure artists that were mostly operating in earlier decades), and as much as anything I think that's down to the darkness of the album.  Now, before anyone rushes out thinking they're going to get something seriously gloomy, I am talking in relative terms.  Duncan's music is naturally bright, sometimes even jokey.  But Mercy is the album where there's an added edge to the music, and to the subject matter. There are at least two songs that are about people having faced the tragedy of death - the tender 'You Don't Leave Me Lonely', and the utterly blazing 'Faithful to You' which is one of those rare songs that has such power that I can feel the need to play it several times in a row.  Like right now...

 And even the lighter moments on this album are mature and measured.  I certainly find it to be a satisfying listen, and I expect it will appear in the lists on this blog fairly regularly from now on.

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