Vivian Slade,
Vivian Slade
(Human Art, 1999)

Vivian Slade's debut album Vivian Slade is not what it appears. The first song and, if I'm correct, the first single, "Move," is just that -- a moving song. Not moving as in emotionally moving, but moving as in driving. From there, the album moves from softer balladish songs to guitar-driven rockers, almost alternating back and forth between the two. It is an album that grabs your attention and drags you in, then lulls you for a bit and grabs for the throat again. What a way to get someone's attention!

Then it throws something even more unexpected up with the Spanish/flamenco-influenced song "Don't Know Why." There's some beautiful guitar work there! Fantastic sax work on the song "I Don't Do It" adds a wonderful jazzy texture. I really like the additional part also (an unlisted and uncredited extra).

Vivian's music is contemplative yet questioning. She seems like she'd be very interesting to talk with (and if she returns to North Carolina and I'm able to catch her show, I'd like to interview her). She initially gave me the impression that this was going to be a Meredith Brooks wannabe album -- I'm very happy to say that impression was wrong. Please do not mistake this for a slam against Meredith or Vivian, as I like both -- but while recognizing one's influences and bringing them across in one's music is important, hopping on the bandwagon of whatever is currently popular is a trend I dislike.

So, I shall avoid making comparisons to Meredith. This album stands on its own as being uniquely Vivian Slade. Great rhythms, wonderful guitar work and really nice melodies make this album good. Pensive lyrics make this album really good, approaching great. Vivian's voice has a slight twinge of sarcasm underneath a blanket of sweetness. There's a raw undertone that is infectious. It isn't raspy, but does have the "belted out" quality to it.

I very much look forward to whatever else Vivian has to say musically.

[ by Stan Cocheo ]

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