Jude Eden: In the Key of J

Karmic Fury Records reviews Jude Eden's solo album In the Key of J

This Saturday, January 10th, is the much-anticipated release of cellist Jude Eden’s debut album In the Key of J. She will be performing live at Fermental at 7pm, at which time you can also pick up a copy of the album. For more details, check out the Facebook event.

Best known locally for being half of the duo Upstarts and Rogues (we talked about them in KFR Live #8), this is Eden’s first solo recording effort. The songs are mostly instrumental, usually with melodies layered over rhythmic plucking. The beauty of songs without lyrics is that the listener is free to go wherever she or he chooses, to interpret the music based on the emotion it invokes, with no verbal guidelines from the creator. I recommend listening to this album when you have time to let your mind wander and go on an adventure, undistracted by the “real” world.

Jude Eden In the Key of JIn the Key of J opens with “Cascades,” a good introduction to Eden’s style of sonorous melody layered over percussive plucking. The second track, “Spy vs. Spy,” might be my personal favorite. Eden cleverly utilizes her instrument for a variety of effects, from resonating knocks to sneaky slides in and out of some of the notes. I really got a sense of mystery, tiptoeing around, the possibility of danger. “Morning Glory” stands out as the brightest and most cheerful song on a largely brooding album, invoking images of gardens, meadows, and the fresh dew of a new day. “Faye’s Voyage” is another example of great effects, including some nice scratching noises. There’s a sense of symmetry, with effects at the beginning and the end, and dual melodies interlacing throughout the body of the song. I sort of felt like I was on a boat, which made the segue into “Whales” make a lot of sense. The plucking fades in and out like the pulsing of sonar, with a strong and smooth melody layered nicely over it. Eden gives this song space to breathe, with an easy melody that doesn’t feel forced to cover too much ground. “Witness” is a short and sinister-sounding track with no background plucking, implying a singular voice carrying a lot of emotion and possibly some trauma.

I suppose “Canon” might technically be considered to be a cover song, since it is based on Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” However, Eden gets a ton of points for creativity. I expected multiple layers of cello, which is what happens eventually. Totally unexpected was Eden’s sultry yet understated voice added into the mix, the only time she actually sings on the album. Her two instruments are layered like a musical lasagna: Cello, cello, vocals, vocals, cello, vocals, etc. The breathy vocal harmonies interwoven with the cello melodies really make this arrangement different from any heard before. By the time the song reaches its crescendo, the effect is that of a choir of singers on one side and a choir of cellos on the other. The wild ride wraps up with a solitary cello. You’ve heard this song before but you haven’t heard THIS song before.

“La Ramblas” sounds like the soundtrack to someone getting ready for a duel or a mission or at least walking down the street meaningfully, possibly on a hot day. “Something in the Way” is a brooding interlude that marches deliberately. In “The Seafarer” Eden uses reverb and delay to make the cello actually sound like water. When the dual high and low melodies kick in, I do feel like I’m on a journey on the sea.

The album ends with a cacophonous head trip of a song called “Catalyst.” This is the only other time Eden’s voice appears on the album, this time with spoken word. I’ve always enjoyed her lyrical freestyles performed live and don’t think a Jude Eden album would be complete without showing off her poetic prowess. There is so much going on in this song that I had a hard time deciding what to listen to. On the one hand, there is a whole toolbox of cello effects, from the sound of dripping water to a traffic jam of beautiful noise. And on the other hand there is Eden’s voice, both ominous and playful, echoing amid the futuristic orchestra. Among the lyrical gems are lines such as “Darkness is the catalyst for my creative catharsis.” The line she repeats as the song and album comes to a close could be a tagline for the album itself: “A new way into the same old day.”

Pick up a copy of In the Key of J at Eden’s live show or order online at inthekeyofj.com.

 

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KFR Live in Wilmington #8

Featuring Upstarts & Rogues at Fermental and Ironhead at Reggie's 42nd St Tavern

We at KFR embrace all kinds of music and this Friday night we found ourselves in two very different concert atmospheres, just to mix it up.

First, we caught Upstarts & Rogues at Fermental in the Ogden area. Fermental features live music in the beer garden every Friday and Saturday night. The great thing about this venue (in addition to the free Friday night wine tastings, great selection of craft beer, and the awesome outdoor seating area) is that they do live music early. By 8:00, the show is in full swing and they usually wrap up around 10 or so, plenty of time to get out to see other bands or get home at a reasonable hour.

Jude Eden of Upstarts and Rogues

Jude Eden of Upstarts and Rogues

Upstarts & Rogues consists of Jeff Sanchez (of local jam band The Clams) on guitar and Jude Eden on cello, with both members contributing vocals. Their voices complement each other nicely, and the beautiful guitar/cello combination is something that isn’t seen everyday in the Wilmington music scene. Their live performances are an even balance of original songs and covers. Eden is known to launch into loop pedal cello improvisation, sometimes accompanied by her own style of spoken word poetry.  One of the great things about this duo is that they don’t hesitate to do their own thing. They improvise, they jam, they banter, and it somehow all makes sense.

Upstarts & Rogues released their studio debut “Twain Shall Meet” in 2012, with both members showing off their own style of songwriting. The recording is a good representation of what they sound like live, with a few additional instruments and studio effects thrown in.

Jeff Sanchez of Upstarts and Rogues

Jeff Sanchez of Upstarts and Rogues

One of the songs on the album that U&R performed live was “Micha’s Song,” a bluesy ode to friendship that transcends the sentimental and ruminates on the global effects of love: “I’m gonna write a song that sounds like what you mean to me…Cause if everyone had a little bit of what we have, there would be no war (and I’ve been to war), there would be no strife. I’m tellin you.” Eden’s soft and soulful voice delivers the lines in an understated way that exemplifies the meaning without forcing it.

We weren’t able to stay for the whole set, but we’re sure a few more of our favorite originals were in there. “Thought We Had a Deal” is a tune more in the classic rock vein in which Sanchez bemoans the failed promises and implicit understandings of a relationship and “Rebuttal in Blue” is Eden’s take on relentlessly trying to make a relationship work when it’s not meant to be.

Eden and Sanchez are both busy with other projects; Sanchez is in the middle of a busy season with The Clams and Eden is finishing up her first solo cello album, tentatively scheduled for release this fall. Catch one of Upstarts & Rogues’ rare live performances if you can, but in the meantime you can pick up a copy of “Twain Shall Meet” at upstartsandrogues.com.

Angela and Johnny Yeagher of Ironhead

Angela and Johnny Yeagher of Ironhead

The second part of the night took place across town at Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern, a bar tucked away off Oleander Drive in midtown. From the outside, the bar looks like it might hold 20 people. However, the inside is actually quite vast and features several pool tables, a long bar, and a room with a stage for live music. We decided to check out a rock show to finish off our night. Doors were at 9pm, but we knew from experience that a rock show is only truly rock if it starts an hour past the time listed. We were right…ish. The first band took the stage well past 10:30. The bill featured 3 bands: Bully Pulpit from Charleston, SC; Richard Baccus & The Luckiest Girls from Raleigh, NC; and Ironhead from Wilmington. We admittedly came to review our hometown band but were glad that they played last, as we were treated to excellent sets from the first two bands. Rock and metal shows are harder and harder to come by in Wilmington, especially since the closing of beloved music venue The Soapbox in 2013, so it was a real treat to see three very talented bands really bringing it on a Friday night. If you’re into heavier rock or punk music, Reggie’s is one of the few places in town that really lets loose.

Ironhead consists of husband and wife badasses Johnny Yeagher (guitar and vocals) and Angela Yeagher (bass and vocals) as well as new drummer Mickey “Blue Eyes” Lewis. This band has been rocking since 2003 and it shows in the way they play — fearless, yet polished. They came out swinging on “Devastation Blues” and kept the energy high through the entire set. “It’s Self Destruction” featured intense lyrics such as “I’m drowning in a sea polluted. No one will rescue me…salvation’s not for me” while the instruments thundered in choreographed chaos in the background.

Angela and Johnny Yeagher of Ironhead

Angela and Johnny Yeagher of Ironhead

Lewis (of famed local band The Needles) is a fairly new addition in 2014, replacing Brad Ellington who is taking a break due to a new baby. Lewis is confident and charismatic and, with Angela Yeagher, forms one hell of a rhythm section. Yeagher’s bass playing is a lot of fun to watch and listen to, and this was made especially apparent when several fans yelled out and motioned for her to crank up her amp. She did, and it rocked. Johnny Yeagher is a skilled frontman, not just because he can spit out intense lyrics while playing intricate lead guitar licks, but because he does so in a way that makes it look easy. As musicians, we can attest to the fact that what he does is NOT easy. His guitar solos are clean, creative, and masterfully executed. We can’t wait to hear more from this band, and we won’t have to wait long. Ironhead has been busy in the studio laying down tracks for their third full length album, set for release in 2014. In the meantime, you can purchase their past releases via their Facebook Music Store or CDBaby.

Whatever music style you’re into, be sure to get out and support live and local music!

 

Dylan Linehan: Pericardium

Karmic Fury Records reviews Dylan Linehan's debut album Pericardium

Any fan of live music knows what it’s like to see a good show – not just a “cool, that was worth my 5 bucks at the door” kind of show, but a truly goosebump-inducing blow your mind kind of show. It’s the kind of show that keeps you up at night reliving it and sits fresh in your mind the next day. One of these shows for us was the first time we heard Dylan Linehan and her magnificent piano (click here for our review of that show). She’s continued to perform since then, and is now releasing her debut album, Pericardium, featured in our Karmic Fury Records album review series.

Album Artwork and Design by Heather Divoky

Pericardium is best viewed as a companion piece to Linehan’s live performance. The album is beautiful yet restrained. In order to appreciate the work that went into capturing her emotional energy in a medium like this, like a great Broadway musical, you really must really see and hear the live performance. The Broadway musical analogy is especially apropo, as Pericardium sounds like the soundtrack for a theatrical production. Linehan has scored student films and is also working on the score for a feature film with her father, Terry, and this sense of an underlying story is apparent on the album.

Pericardium opens with a thundering piano leading into “Tazmanian White”, a different kind of love song about a free spirit. The dramatic chorus will get stuck in your head, as it’s been in ours since we popped in the CD several days ago. The drums and well-placed backing vocals really flesh out the arrangement, which is pushed along by strong piano riffs throughout. Linehan’s vocals sound a little bit thinner than we’re accustomed to, one of the unfortunate side effects of studio compression, but the emotion shines through, especially when she really unleashes near the end against a backdrop of piano, electric guitar, and shouted background vocals. One part in particular reminds us of Kate Bush.

A hauntingly beautiful 25 second vocal interlude segues into our personal favorite track on the album “For Us”, which is probably also the song most likely to appeal to the mainstream sector. From beginning to end, the arrangement is breathtaking, with percussive, yet soft strings adding a lightness throughout the song that perfectly accompanies Linehan’s sweet vocals. The light pop song is simple and delicate and could easily make its way onto a movie soundtrack. By the time the song ends in a decrescendo of vocal harmonies and strings, we’re completely enamored. We can’t get enough of this song.

“Oh Fixation, Please Fix Me” starts off in a similar vein, before launching into a full out rock opera in the chorus, complete with passionate backing vocals and electric guitars. The lyrics pack a punch too, with lines such as “You won’t remember me, I’m just a happy memory for someone else to find.” Linehan keeps her verses sweet and subtle and then exudes force and fury in the choruses, her technical and emotional ranges both apparent as she addresses addiction. There is some nice electric guitar work in this one as well – the riffs are clean and effective without being too much, in addition to some more excellent string work.

The next song, “Fireside”, begins with a piano riff and big chorusy vocals that remind us of one of the more tender moments of a Tim Burton movie. Even at its sweetest, the song has an undertone of dark drama. In the bridge/chorus, a beautiful low cello helps escalate the song into a more upbeat but no less sweet apex before tapering off into an absolutely lovely and soft conclusion. “Forever I’m yours, and you’re mine”, indeed.

We have hardly a moment to recover before being launched into a slow cello solo that sounds downright sinister. Not exactly what one would expect from a song called “BFF”, the bitterness oozes out of every note in the first few slow lines before launching into full rock opera territory with help from more guitar and drums. She really lets loose on the vocals, too. “You could have treated me right…Is this what you wanted? You wanted a fight? Well now you got what you had comin’!” Zing.

At this point, the album shifts away from full band arrangements to more bare bones instrumentation, where it stays through the remaining songs. When we asked her about this transition, Linehan answered that it was indeed a deliberate decision intended to strip away the layers in order to get to the origins of it all, the “music within the music”. With only her voice, piano, and occasional subtle strings, “Carry On” is a tender testament of Linehan’s attention to emotional nuance. The perfectly executed vocal phrasing, sometimes almost a whisper and then rising to a plea and back again, is extremely effective. While Linehan sounds great with the band, she knows when to let the music speak for itself without any frills.

“Another Day Like Sunday” is another piano/vocal showcase with some nice theatrical lines that are almost playful and sing-songy if not for the underlying cynicism. She plays some great classical/theatrical piano in this song. By the final refrain, the song becomes a funeral dirge and the heartache in Linehan’s voice is apparent.

Luckily, we’re rescued from despair with the sweet sounding “Coupon Book” about the excitement and trepidation of a new love. Even here, however, Linehan and her piano don’t rest easy. “I could give you a coupon book for all the things I’d do for you, But we both know I only give favors on paper, It’s only ink in navy blue,” she whispers as the song winds down.

The album concludes with the funhouse carnival piano masterpiece that is “Medusa’s Zen Garden”. Over seven minutes in length, the piano work in this song is downright impressive. She also has some nice expressive vocals that escalate into what we can best describe as a “whoop”. The parts where she speaks the words in between echoing vocals make us feel like we’re at the crucial conclusion of an epic theatrical masterpiece. The urgency in both vocals and piano is apparent and effective. The lines, “I am not the girl I used to be. There’s a cage around my heart, you’ll never find the key!” are a fitting end to the album as a whole.

Pericardium is by definition a tough double layered membrane which covers the heart. This is the metaphor that ties all of the album’s songs together as Linehan allows her questions, emotions, stories, and music to flow through punctured holes in her pericardium. In her own words she explains: “In every song, there is the challenge of breaking through a wall, posing the questions of how we use our bodies as the ‘pericardiums’ for our souls. How do we hide our pain? How do we cope? How do we thrive and break down our walls of fear? Why do we build our walls to begin with, and what are they made of?” With her unique and theatrical style, Linehan can’t help but pierce through the pericardium of each listener. By the conclusion of the album, beware, for your heart may lay open and exposed.

For more information about Dylan Linehan, visit her website at: http://dylanlinehan.com

Musicians on Pericardium include:
Dylan Linehan: vocals and piano
David Easton: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar
Joe Ristaino: drums
Lizz Gay: viola
Hillary Flowers: cello
Preston Luce: cello on “Carry On”
Lydia Meadows: violin
Vanessa Lynch: backing vocals
Dylan Fowler: backing vocals

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