Merry Citoli,
(Magic Cricket, 1998)

Phantoms is a first CD for Arizona-based singer Merry Citoli. She is credited as writer on all eleven tracks, with a co-credit going to Ron McIntyre on two.

Citoli, who has a pleasant voice in the lower range, also supplies all vocals as well as piano (or other keyboards) on all but four tracks. Phantoms could be classified as soft, or even folk, rock.

In her dedication, one of the individuals to whom Citoli extends special thanks is Deepak Chopra for "the inspiration to pull myself up and out of the dark." It is apparent that this CD is rooted in some personal pain or trauma (the "phantoms" of the title) that Citoli has found her way through.

Most of the songs on this CD have very pleasant melodies and, if you don't listen too closely, you might think it full of sunshine and happiness. The lyrics, however, seem full of doubt, unhappiness and even hopelessness, especially on the title track, where the beat underscores that lack of hope.

Three tracks, however, provide a change of mood. "Free Once More," "Abbetira" and "Nightspell" indicate that things are looking up. The melodic style hasn't changed, but the lyrics are less dark, especially on the latter two tracks. "Abbetira" is just plain weird -- but in a cool sort of way.

The lyrics and melodies do seem mostly at odds, except on "Who's Holding You Back," in which Citoli's harsh singing matches the scolding the song is administering -- though whether to Citoli herself or someone else is open to interpretation.

At first, I didn't think that I liked the CD at all, but I found snatches of the songs running through my head at odd hours and now it finds its way into my CD player (at work, no less) at least once a day.

Give Phantoms a try and you, too, may well find yourself succumbing to Merry Citoli's spell.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]
Rambles: 8 July 2001