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The Emotional Breadth Of A Mature Artist,
This review is from: Grown Backwards (Audio CD)
David Byrne writes, on the enclosed booklet as a way of explaining how this album was conceived, that "Sometimes it seems as if things, like writing a group of songs or getting groceries, are dealt with more or less on a day-to-day basis, as they come up, each reacted to only at the time as they demand to be, and that there is no plan or direction or overall consideration of where things are leading. But of course that's not true -there are little decisions made every minute, and the cumulative effect is to define what later appears to be a conscious plan, with an emotional center and compass."
Byrne's words may very well describe your listening experience, after you play this album a few times, as it has articulated my own experience. My first impression was that of a gathering of songs without much of a common theme neither musically nor lyrically, ranging from opera arias to some choice covers and several examples of Byrne's quirky brand of songwriting.
Yet, upon further listening, these songs grow on you and grow together steadily, without anything resembling forcefulness but rather as another great showing of Byrne's emotional breadth and ability to re-interpret and bring new life to material very different than his.
Gorgeous examples of his power as an interpreter of other people's work are "Glass, Concrete and Stone" which just gets more and more moving with each chorus; the wonderful version of Lambchop's "The Man Who Loved Beer" who has probably moved me even more than the original Kurt Wagner's rendition; and the stunning version of Bizet's "Au Fond Du Temple Saint" which Byrne and Rufus Wainwright seem to have been born to sing together.
And this only the first three songs. You can also count on "Empire" -which I consider an important piece if for no other reason than intelligently and ironically condemning the certain political madness being currently passed as patriotism- as well as "Tiny Apocalypse" or "She Only Sleeps" which are pure Byrne magic.
Whether you come to this album expecting some trademark Pop "Byrnesque" or some new beautiful surprises from a man who continues to explore new paths, you will be fully satisfied.