Sarah Fimm: Given Never Offered (Album Review)

Poet-painter-composer-singer-multi-instrumentalist wonder Sarah Fimm is the unique artist who manages to make every album in her prolific oeuvre innovative and exciting without ever losing the core of who she is as an artist. Her signature sound weaves a dark, gothic undercurrent with sultry, trippy beats (she’s toured with Bauhaus and Delerium), crashing piano, and her purring, ferocious voice, but there’s always something new to discover with each release. Her new album, Given Never Offered, is no exception to that artistic excellence.

The opener, “Teacher,” is the Sarah Fimm sound we know and love, but then the Lynchian instrumental “Bridges and Tunnels” slinks in with jazz horns and murky, rumbling piano–resurrected on the later instrumentals “Streetlights” and “Mannahatta.”

The album’s title track is also its centerpiece. “Given Never Offered” is a haunting ballad that puts the spotlight directly on Sarah’s beautiful voice.

The simmering piano of “Black Ash Clouds” recalls both Sarah’s early albums and those of Tori Amos. The song shares a kinship with Tori’s “Icicle” and “Yes, Anastasia.” So of course I love it.

“Folding Petal” is another exquisite ballad. There aren’t many artists that elicit full reviews from me anymore, let alone make me stop everything else I’m doing to listen intently. Sarah is one of the select few, and “Folding Petal” demanded my full attention.

“Wild Dreams” unleashes the lovely soprano side of Sarah’s gorgeous, multi-faceted voice.

Lest we think she’s gone soft, the finale “Power Over Me” pushes Sarah back into the menacing electro-rock house she built with her industrious, genius hands.

Sarah Fimm Official Site

Buy @ Bandcamp

Buy @ Amazon

Alela Diane: Cusp (Album Review)

So many of my favorite artists from Muruch’s early days have fallen away or ruined their signature sounds chasing musical trends, but not Alela Diane. Alela is reliable in releasing albums that fit perfectly in her oeuvre without stifling her artistic growth. Her new, fifth album, Cusp, is the perfect example. There’s no doubt you’re listening to an Alela Diane album, but its beauty and brilliance is still fresh and surprising.

Alela is one of the rare artists who always has something of substance to convey through her lyrics and never fails to do so in an eloquent, innovative, and exquisitely poetic way.

Cusp explores the theme of motherhood–its tribulations as much, if not more than, its joys–but, like the best poetry, each lyric can be interpreted and expanded far beyond the original intent.

The standout tracks are “Ether & Wood” and “Yellow Gold.”

“Ether & Wood” is a rumination on life and loss–from past relationships to mortality. She manages to compare visiting an old home to a newborn baby leaving the womb with the succinct, plaintive refrain “I don’t live there anymore.

“Yellow & Gold” pairs Alela’s lovely voice with a melody that builds from a gentle piano melody into an otherworldly multi-instrumental folk symphony.

A decade ago, Alela Diane was one of the many “indie folk” artists that gave Muruch it’s brief reputation as a folk music blog. Now she truly stands in a class of her own.

Alela Diane Official Site

Buy @ Amazon

Patti Smith Will Perform Live at Mountain Stage, Charleston, WV on February 11th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I still haven’t even processed the fact that legendary punk poet-singer Patti Smith is coming here to Charleston, WV to present at the WV Music Hall of Fame next month. Mountain Stage just announced Patti Smith will perform live at their February 11th show!!!!

I’m not usually a gushing fangirl about celebrities, but Patti Smith has been my poet/rockstar idol since the first time her song “Pissing in a River” made me cry as a young teenager–it still makes me cry, it’s one of my all-time favorite songs and certainly the most powerful song ever recorded. And that’s just a ballad, her spoken word and punk performances were like witnessing a volcanic eruption. There has never been anyone like Patti Smith and I doubt there ever will be. I never let myself even dream of seeing her perform in concert. I still can’t believe it’s real.

I already bought my tickets so I can get lost in the performance without having to write a review and because I suspect the show will sell out quickly. Tickets are available online and at Taylor Books.