Daisy DeBolt, |
Released the same year as I Can, Souls Talking nonetheless has a distinctly different flavor from that companion album. Although definitely still Daisy DeBolt, different influences inflect the music of this album. Latin beats and guitar riffs are the most noticeable additions to the cornucopia of musical instruments and styles DeBolt sews together, as well as some high energy French tradition and a bit of Calypso. As always, her rich and unforgettable voice ties together a great band of musicians to create yet another joyous and poignant collection of songs.
"Come Hell or High Water" leads as a kind of quintessential DeBolt tune, full of instruments ranging from the ever-present accordion to a synthesizer to a tambourine. The mixture of blues, gospel and rock all set to a country beat make a lively beginning and set one's feet, if not entire body, dancing.
"Eagle Hill" is the first which shows the Latin beat, and continues marvelously the jam-session feeling with the numerous voices and instruments chiming in seemingly on whims. It is a love song, and a happy one, which begins another shift from I Can. Souls Talking feels like a more personal album in the way that it addresses mainly relationships rather than the landscape or concerns of the singer alone.
"Epic Aire" is a long crescendo of a ballad, again focusing on examining a search for a relationship. A true story-song, it follows the narrator on a long journey to find her absent lover after, as the lyrics say, "the cat looks at me like I'm not even there" and the memories seem to have fled too far afield. The lyrics are shown as strong as on I Can, with clear, precise, and familiar images provoked with the ease of a practiced storyteller.
"Dreams Cost Money" has almost a carousel melody backed by a truly rocking beat and wailing guitar. The pulsing bass and guitar are perfect in this argument set to music. The energy is deliciously at loose ends toward the beginning and then resolved by the hope for a peacemaker with a great a capella finale.
"Catalunya Sun" is the second track with a distinct Latin beat, this time mingled with rolling drums and a wandering guitar melody. The song is a long and lazy description of waiting for the night in the Southern climates, concentrating on the rhythm of ease during the day and the dance and energy of the night: "They say that movement's for the night." The music draws you through the town and hours convincingly as the song completes it cycle.
"Sometimes" marks the first of what I've come to label her torch songs. These are the best songs to show off her voice, accompanied as it is by a piano, though more instruments join in as the song progresses.
"Monte Leuze Bleuze" brings the songs back again to the Southwest. "Memories never die," this song is fine example of DeBolt's unusual analogies drawn out over a couple of verses, which provide both interesting images to ponder and carefully observations of the subject of the song. DeBolt has a knack for powerfully evoking either a person or place and this song is perhaps the cleanest example of it.
"Cage Monte" is the French addition to the album, which seems almost a polka, and returns the aura of the album again to light-hearted fun, dancing and, of course, expert musicianship.
"The Ballad of Edouard Beaupre," from a poem written by Michael Ondaatje, is I think my favorite of the slow songs. She manages to reach almost a (dare I say it) Billie Holiday tone, conveying all the loneliness and desperation of the subject, a ballad of the solitude of what many consider freakishness, the hero being 8-foot-6 and over 300 pounds. The song is ghostly and harrowing not only from the beauty of the words but from the power of DeBolt's delivery.
"Blue Jays Mocking Me" makes a cheerful finish for the album, encouraging shedding the winter blues even if warmer weather isn't quite there yet. Again the lyrics are magical: "Spring is the gift of Winter's dreams," and the joy behind the music pulls everything together into a great conclusion.
The two Daisy DeBolt albums I've encountered are difficult to compare or decide between. All of her recordings are full of her spirit, which is really all I can ask of any musician, and the feeling that she is one musician who's doing what she's always wanted and probably was meant to do is inescapable.
[ by Robin Brenner ]