Squonk Opera — You Are Here
((Not on label) no#, 2006, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-01-01
You Are Here is a companion soundtrack to Squonk Opera’s latest stage production, (put your hometown’s name here): The Opera and continues a string of theatrical releases since the Pittsburgh-based ensemble formed in 1992. The lineup has shifted some over the years with keyboard player Jackie Dempsey, saxophonist/reedsman Steve O’Hearn, and drummer Kevin Kornicki the only holdovers from when I last encountered them during the Ha Ha Tali days (1996). They’ve since added guitarist David Wallace and bassist Nathan Wilson, though the most significant addition is singer Christina Acosta, a Dominican native who brings serious chops and an elegant and sensual presence that often elevates the material to another plane – she’s downright alluring when she wraps her voice around the lyrics as on “Those Who Have Gone.” Remarkably, the alchemy of her singing and the instrumental arrangements works on gentler tracks, like “Little Flowers,” but also on rockers such as “Home Movies.” Despite the presence of guitar, the band’s sound remains that of a chamber rock ensemble with Dempsey’s keys holding down the center of her songs, whether she’s wielding piano, Fender Rhodes, or even accordion. The group has a distinctive instrumental persona, characterized by O’Hearn’s often electrified or midified reeds and Kornicki’s always creative (also often electrified) percussion work. Things get pretty proggy on the 7/4 instrumental “Driving” or the upright bass and flute driven “Belly Full of Fire,” which ought to be inducement enough for Exposé readers to give this one a listen, despite the album’s many other charms. Recommended.
Related artist(s): Squonk Opera
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