Wednesday, December 14, 2011

French Quarter

A brief pause, from the recent barrage of reviews, to post something from my record collection. The input jack on my groundscored mp3 player went defunct, and i can no longer add any music, so i've got about 30 records that comprise most of my daily life. This is one of them. Its sort of a combination of a confidante, a security blanket, and a suit of armor.

I first became aware of Stephen Steinbrink, here recording under the name French Quarter, in Denver, where i saw him at the ever-funky Rhinocoperolis. My friend told me, 'he sings like an angel,'! He may have an angelic throat, but his heart burns with the fires of Tartarus. His veins flow with venom, but also honey.

These ten songs contain both innocence AND experience, romance AND hatred, and all the blurred margins in between. They convey the complexities of relationships, of living, which is very rarely black or white. The bitter really laces the sweet, a tangy and visceral listening experience, that has become my constant companion.

French Quarter addresses one of the most re-occurring questions in my listening habits: What seperates the wheat from the chaff? Why does one folksy singer/songwriter soar like icarus, while others fall like some embarrassing open mic mishap? Its all about taste and texture, on this record. Overdubbed guitars, sneaking in and out, at times sounding like slinky Ethiopiques out-takes, like on 'Debt', or the Arvo Part-like vocal chorales of 'Judgement', that sing like angels of the pit, of some of the most bitter and scathing lyrics i have ever heard. This one track, let alone the other 9 which are also brilliant, have helped me through some REALLY dark times, and there is hardly a day which passes without its gracing my headphones.

Being stuck with only 30 records to choose from, is forcing me to become intimate and familiar with them, and they really are becoming like friends, cheerleaders, philosophers. I am getting a chance to really delve and let myself become moved and influenced by this wonderful music, and this one is my particular favorite, which is why i posted it first. You can pretty much expect to see the rest of them here, in the near future, although you never can know what to expect, here at J's Heaven.

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