Saturday, February 16, 2019

Karen Carpenter

Recently saw a BBC documentary about the infamous Carpenters, a group reviled by some in their day. Yes, they were sometimes irredeemably schmaltzy, and got even schmatlzier as they went on, but they had a secret weapon that cut through even the worst their candy-coated sentimentality, The potent, emotional sound of Karen Carpenter’s voice. Cutting and direct, the melancholy tone of her singing stood out, even in the circus-like schizophrenia of 70’ pop music. With her brother Richard, a good arranger, (and who recorded and highlighted his sister’s voice brilliantly) the occasionally good song or two, (Burt Bacharach, Paul Williams, and Richard himself), The Carpenters’ music, most particularly Karen’s voice, could be soothingly affecting. Listening to her now, knowing the tragedy of a long, slow death from anorexia nervosa that led to finally succumbing the singer at age 36, the music now has a more powerful resonance.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mary Halvorson

The Leopard was waiting for the C train and who do I see waiting on the platform near me with a huge guitar strapped to her back but the extraordinary young musician Mary Halvorson on her way to a gig. I don’t know Ms Halvorson personally, but I’m aware of some her beautiful, challenging, emotional music. I approached her and her colleague Rafiq Bhatia and she was incredibly friendly and genial. The meeting inspired me to go home & make a drawing as I listened to her latest record, Code Girl.