Keri Shore,
(Mad Squirrel, 2003)

Remember your early adolescence, when you cuddled up with a music album that seemed to speak all the plaintiveness in your heart? Keri Shore's Finally is ethereal indie that every new teenager who likes alternative music or folk-rock might like. The plaintive lyrics and elegant vocals of this album seem to have been born from great pain.

A finalist in the 2002 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Shore has a voice that is reminiscent of Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell and the late Eva Cassidy. The 12 songs on Finally show Shore to be a true inheritor of the heartfelt folk indie singer-songwriter tradition. Bleak, grief-filled and triumphant all at once, these songs vary in tone from the elegant "I Really Do" ("Behind a smile of gallant charm you post a guard for me to chase my blues away and my loneliness") to the catchy but mournful "Break Down and Cry," from the world-music guitar orchestrals of "Watching All the While" to the angry and biting "Sorry They Said" and "Girl on TV," a song about being a teenager dealing with media body issues.

"Watching All the While" is a song about grief that is locked away and hard to get at. The persona sings of a character, perhaps herself, who silently watches the world go by. The distancing is caused by the lack of courage and a grief that seems to be waiting for a resurrection, but dying all the while. It is about how suffering separates people even from their own desire to speak and how life-changing events are suffered alone. "Falling All the Way" speaks of a time in your life "when you cannot reason why/for reason doesn't always have the answer." It continues the same existentialist feel of the sufferer enclosed in her grief, yet hoping against hope.

Most of the songs touch on love and the hope that comes when pain and need seem to be all one has. The most poignant of these recalls the folk songs of the early '60s when phrases such as "Finding my way back along the twisted road that took me away from the one that I love" ("Finding My Way Back") were used unashamedly, when the consequences and cause and effect of love were so much more powerful than they are in the present generation, which is admittedly quite cynical by adolescence. In many of the songs, healing is not apparent, although the persona in the song seems to believe that it is.

In "Girl on TV," the main character of the song sees a fat woman in a mirror. Although she herself is 93 pounds, she wonders who that fat woman is. Lost weight and lost sexuality cause her to envy a girl on TV who is unblemished with a "stomach flat as can be/look at her thigh cellulite free/why can't that girl on TV be me?"

Keri Shore is a singer-songwriter whose voice is rich, evocative and textured. In most of the songs -- a big exception is the "Girl on TV" -- the narrators' grief and trauma are tempered by hopefulness. The lyrics are touching and melancholy but not as rich as they could be. But I suspect the lyrical skills will improve. They should, in order to match that voice. Her love of language is obvious and anyone who likes to hear the purity of an indie voice will listen often to this album. I highly recommend this CD.

- Rambles
written by Carole McDonnell
published 20 November 2004

[ visit the artist's website ]