Red Pocket — Thick
(Tzadik TZ 7710, 2004, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2005-09-01Fans of the wonderful Charming Hostess can now rejoice. While this is not a Charming Hostess album, it does feature Jewlia Eisenberg in a somewhat similar setting. Her vocal foil for this outing is Marika Hughes, and Scott Amendola fills the percussion role; all three multitask, with Eisenberg on bass, Hughes on cello, and Amendola on electronics. Aside from the obvious absence of guitar, the sound is sometimes a bit like a cross between Charming Hostess and folk singer Ani DiFranco. As in CH and Eisenberg’s solo recording Trilectic (reviewed in #25), a variety of styles are melded into a seamless and interesting whole, with New York art music, modern chamber music, poetry slamming, soulful cello, angry distortion, and frank sexuality pushing against each other like modern dancers inside a giant elastic covering, no longer distinguishable as individuals, just a hand here, a head there. Given the seemingly limited palette, a large variety of combinations keep things interesting. Sometimes the cello takes a rhythm guitar role, providing short chords over the bass and drums; the women sing alone and in combination, sometimes in harmony, sometimes counterpoint; drums provide a subtle groove for treated vocals while bass (I think) adds creepy distortion; the cello takes on a wah-wah pedal for a kind of twisted funk. The vocals are superb throughout, expressive without going over the top, soulful, technically accurate, and the lyrics are never trite or predictable.
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