Jeff Talmadge,
Gravity, Grace & the Moon
(Bozart, 2003)

This is the first time I've sat down and listened to Jeff Talmadge, and ever since I put the CD in the player I've been wondering who he reminds me of. I think the closest I can come is Tom Pachecho, but there are hints of others in there, including James Taylor and John Prine. And let's face it, that's not bad company to be keeping.

Jeff Talmadge is a musical painter as well as a storyteller. He gives you the images -- such as the dancers in "All the Things That She'll Miss" -- but lets you fill in some of the backstory for yourself. You don't know everything there is to know about their "joys and regrets," but you can see them dancing there just the same. You can see the aging "Alfred," too, taking a photograph of his love in the light from the skylight, and you can peek through the window in "Everything I Know" at the lovers who "lie wrapped inside the story/As old as time/And young as yesterday."

There are also some nice observations about the way choices are often avoided as much as lived-with, and one of my favourite songs on the album, "Inside the Brackets," is about the way that what you see is dependent on how you see it. "There's a statue in the stone/There's a space inside the bowl/There's a snow that even makes a white dog gray/It's all those things that you don't say."

If you enjoy the turn of a good lyric and tunes that are well-delivered, then you'll probably love this album. Good lyrics are important to me. A song can sound like it came straight from heaven, but if the lyrics don't make sense to me, I have trouble hearing it. A couple of these songs (but only a couple) I'm not entirely sure about -- "Photograph," for example, sounds superb, and although "You can miss what you can miss/But a miss is as good as a mile" trips off the tongue really well, I'm not sure what it actually means. However, the rest are so good I'm still left wanting more, which is always the best sign that you've found an artist you want to spend some more time with.

- Rambles
written by Jean Lewis
published 12 July 2003

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