Terry Everett Quiett,
Paperdoll Spokesman
(Sixth Sense Studios, 1999)

Paperdoll Spokesman is a powerful CD by Terry Everett Quiett. It is well put together, and while it may journey through the night, it does not leave you there. (At least, not if you listen right to the end.) However, some of the darkness in the CD prevents me from saying it is an album that everyone should listen to, for not everyone can -- which is a pity because the music on the album is amazing.

The lyrics, however, are often dark. They are well written, but it is impossible to overlook the darkness in content and imagery that pervades most of the CD. For instance, "Burning Down" is a modern lament, the words of a man watching his house burn down from within. Then there are the bitter words of "Wider and Deeper," after love is gone.

"My love has burned her bridges quite black
And I can't take a single bill back that I spent on that love
So I'll burn my fields before they grow her grain
Am I host to the love virus strain?"

The darkness continues in "Controlled" and on through "Brother CEO." There are a few songs scattered among the first fourteen tracks -- like, for instance, "Circuit Line (The Circus Song)" -- which are not as dark, but neither are they particularly happy. Sometimes they verge on being songs of quiet joy.

And then there is the last song on the CD, "All Good to Me." The lyrics are simple, but then it switches to a Middle Eastern chant, and the raw power in it is amazing. If the songs before it are a long, mostly starless night, this final track provides a clear sunrise for the next day. And while the lyrics start the transformation, it is the power in that chant, and the sharp contrast to the mood of the previous songs, that brings it to completion.

There is a lot of musical skill and an amazing versatility on the album. Paperdoll Spokesman is dominated by Quiett, whose voice suits each song perfectly. A talented musician, he plays acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, bass, mandolin, tabla, djembe, dobro, keys, classical guitar, electric guitar and organ. He is joined by Gooding on the drums, percussion and electric guitar, and Rodney Baker adds percussion to "Circuit Line" and "Brother CEO."

The sound varies, ranging from a very sparse arrangement with one or two instruments to other, fuller tracks which take full advantage of the three musicians. The style varies, too, sliding from folk to folk rock and beyond. The music takes the lyrics and transforms them into something more, into a journey as opposed to a long stay.

So in the end, it boils down to one question: Can you stand a short journey through the night? If so, pick up this CD and let it carry you, and greet the dawn with it at the end. If not, pass this one by for now.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]

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