Wendy Ealey,
Out of the Shower
(independent, 2007)

There's no doubt Australian singer-songwriter Wendy Ealey can sing. She has a huge contralto and the technique to use it appropriately for whatever song she's singing at the moment, at a boom or whisper.

The problem I have is with what she chooses to sing. Like many contemporary songwriters, Ealey is fond of the direct statement. As an example, consider these words from "Walls," a song about the aftermath of being dumped:

And yet I continued to function
I worked and sometimes I would play
For sometime I felt no compunction
in nursing my heartache, in hiding away.

I've had those feelings, so I know what Ealey is singing about. The problem is she's telling me about them, rather than making me feel them. Surely, an image or a pattern of imagery is available that will make the point without just talking about it.

In "Out of the Shower," a song about a woman finally taking control of her life, Ealey uses the metaphor of taking a long shower to signify hiding from life. But after constructing the metaphor, Ealey returns to direct statement, writing:

She thought there was no rush
Had not anticipated the people who would crush
Her dreams and aspirations
With a few well chosen words.

I'm aware there are many people out there who respond to what a song is saying rather than the way it is said, and many of those people will like this CD -- but as far as the art of songwriting goes, good messages don't necessarily make good songs.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Michael Scott Cain

11 October 2008

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