Friday, July 17, 2015

Somebody's Hometown

In addition to my poetry book, I have also just published an album with my band Human Shields, "Somebody's Hometown." The title of the album comes from the first line of one of the songs, "Alisa's Bridge": "On the streets of somebody's hometown."

The album is available here on Bandcamp, where you can stream it for free or buy it as a download. Whoever wants a CD should contact me personally.

Here are Don Brown's liner notes about the album:

What are songs for?  Are they simply hummable ditties to alleviate or enhance a mood, or are they little tales that captivate us with their implications?
On "Somebody’s Hometown", Human Shields invest songwriting with the poetic, philosophical, and storytelling content found in the work of the best songwriters.  Like the oldest forms—those found in the folksongs of almost any culture—the songs on this collection take lyrics seriously.   From songs that play off familiar poetic figures—the birds in “Land Without Nightingales,” to the burning tiger (or tyger) in “Rumpus”—to songs that evoke folkloric content—the pale rider, the pirate, the face cards—to songs relevant to our times—“Abottabad”—to songs that engage with a philosophical outlook—“Better Never Than Late,” “You Know I Know”—the songs of Somebody’s Hometown repay attention to lyrics that far too few songwriters can command.
That’s not to say you can get all the value from this disc by reading the lyric sheet.  Not by a long shot.  The songs themselves partake of many aspects of folk music, but crossed with jazz and rock and other forms that best suit the song.  When “Abottabad” begins, we could be listening to someone singing about life in any year of the modern period.  As the sound begins to blend into what might be a cry-in-your-beer confession, we come to something closer to home, passing through a hint of Country  to attest to an American moment.  Or consider the Violent Femmes-like strum of “Rumpus,” or the complex solo in “Sundowning,” or the vocals late in “You Know I Know” where a Tim Buckley-like impassioned abandon comes into play.  Everywhere there are echoes, hints, suggestions of the musical background that gives the work of Human Shields its rich context.
The songs on this disc are stately, thoughtful, varied, surprising.  The simple instrumentation of Andrew Shields, Dany Demuth, and Christoph Meneghetti articulates the songs’ structures with fascinating clarity, and Demuth’s vocals are always graceful, able to punch us with punkish blues belting in “Better Never Than Late,” or lull us with the lovely lyricism of “Long Enough”—a song that starts by evoking one of my favorite paintings, by Vermeer.
The best records invite much replaying—songs the listener wants to learn or memorize, performances that offer a definitive treatment.  "Somebody’s Hometown" is a place to settle down in.

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