- Audio CD (17 Jan. 2011)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Bella Union
- ASIN: B0049IR5OI
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 358,864 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Under Streetlight Glow CD
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titolo-under streetlight glowartista-heidi spencer etichetta-cooperative music v2-n. dischi1data-25 gennaio 2011supporto-cd audiogenere-folk e country--------brani1.alibi 2.under streetlight glow 3.moth met spider 4.hibernation 5.go to france 6.red sky 7.while it's shining 8.carry me softly 9.tried and true 10.whiskey
Variously a travelling filmmaker and singer-songwriter, Milwaukee's Heidi Spencer (performing with her group The Rare Birds) has a remarkably singular musical vision for someone who has previously straddled mediums. Her sound on Under Streetlight Glow is, perhaps unsurprisingly given the title, city-dwelling, briskly jazzy and folky by turns, and governed by her sweet, barbed voice. Of course, when you're a singer-songwriter, having an interesting voice isn't quite enough to guarantee great results, and Spencer's songs are only occasionally the match of her emotive burr.
Opener Alibi is, luckily, one such occasion. Diminutive and unassuming in delivery, it's rather a cheeky story of a secret liaison set against a stop-start rhythm section that forces you to listen closely to each snippet of decorative information. Musically, it is these jazzy shuffles that Spencer excels at most of all; the following title-track recalling the smokiness of Cat Power's The Greatest LP among others. Particularly, the interaction between Spencer's whistling and the aping guitar line is completely irresistible, perfect for rainy cities in the early evening.
Unfortunately the finer songs are swept out of the way early on in Under Streetlight Glow's duration, and what remains is a rather underwhelming set of stock compositions. For example, on Go to France (complete with charmingly Parisian accordion) when Spencer assures the drunk protagonist "you are not alone tonight with your empty glass", there's something of an expressive, personal epiphany that's wonderful to hear, but that's about the last we hear of it. In the hands of, say, Nina Nastasia, these songs might be imbued with more gravitas, more life and emotional grit, but as they stand they are merely acceptable because they are underwritten and not as elaborate as they should be.
As the record winds up, the slow-burning hum of While It's Shining bleeds into its surrounding tracks nearly unnoticeably, and the following strums of Carry Me Softly are just too sickly for the words to stand any chance. This is a shame, because when the music itself matches Spencer's words and voice, they become worthy, interesting and affecting. Spencer should be vaulting over these songs in an attempt to make them connect more directly, but she seems content for them to be merely pretty for the time being.
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Top Customer Reviews
Wisconsin (The Cheese Capital Of America!) and 'Under Street
Glow' is her debut album with her band The Rare Birds.
Ms Spencer has a singularly distinctive voice. A little cracked;
a little breathy and with the power to bring her compositions to
life with a bewitching mixture of pathos and authentic charm.
There are ten songs in the set. A little bit country; a little
bit folksy but reading between the lines we perceive a composer
of imagination with something all her own to share with the
listening world. The production is a little rough around the
edges (in a nice way!) and emphasises all that is best in her
simple but evocative, homespun arrangements. Ms Spencer is
nothing if not believable in the musical tales she has to tell.
Opening track 'Alibi' finds her snapping her fingers in the
beats between the bars as she delivers the lyrics with a touching
tremble in her voice. A curious fusion of longing and regret.
'Moth Met Spider' is a fragile and strangely affecting invention too.
Ms Spencers performance seems to have been touched by the spirit
of Buffy Sainte-Marie (find time to explore her recordings too
if you are unfamiliar with her wonderful work!) with whom she
shares a degree of vocal kinship.
'Red Sky' is a strong contender for top track. A bruised and
broken instrumental arrangement supports the simple two-part
harmony; leaning dangerously to the left and then to the right
it nonetheless manages to stay upright until the final chord.
Concluding track 'Whiskey' is a cautionary tale sung with passion.
It's as close as Ms Spencer comes to being a cowgirl.Read more ›