I first heard of Linda Draper through a sampler CD which came with an issue of one of my favorite pop music zines, Pop Culture Press , and to say I was impressed is understatement. A light pop folk song, Needlessly sounded a bit aimless, a bit desolate while a bit hopeful, a bit of a lot of things, but it spoke to me. The guitar chords in the background seem a bit unprofessional and maybe a bit aimless also, but they were also a bit perfect. For weeks, I tried to get that song out of my head, but it kept creeping back in. There was something about Draper's voice and that song. So when I saw the chance to review this EP, I jumped.
Thankfully, I jumped right into the fire. Linda Draper is as good as--- no, much better than what I'd hoped. She exudes an aura not unlike that of Gileah, whose 2005 release Golden Planes floored me with it's simplistic and astonishingly breathtaking production and performance. While they aren't sisters, they very well could be. Their voices aren't the clearest nor do they span octaves, but they live where their music lives and when they open their mouths to sing, man oh man!
Traces Of (the song) is an example. Slow and plodding, Draper follows the rhythm, just short of catatonic. Her voice even obviously reaches the lower part of her register. Then, she hits the chorus. Still plodding, she raises her voice and volume enough to drive it home. A fine, fine song and evidently the lead track on her upcoming album, Keepsake.
This version of Big Blue Sky is an alternate from 2005's One Two Three Four, an album produced by one of my favorite producers, Kramer, who also produced Low, one of my favorite new bands. The slight echo on Draper's voice and the minimal production is pure Kramer, who seems to like to let musicians use what they have, if you know what I mean. Draper uses it beautifully here, mixing pop and folk in just the right amount. Simple guitar and voice seldom has sounded this good.
Both Draper and Kramer overwhelm me with the choice of Phil Ochs' Flower Lady, a classic folk song from my youth, done so well here that I have an urge to blow the dust off of my Ochs albums and listen to them at this very moment. But Ochs holds a special place in my heart and I will save that moment for a time when I for sure will not be interrupted. You can bet that Draper's EP will be there, though, because I have to hear her version after Ochs', one directly after the other. I'm sure Draper's will fare well.
Almost as if they knew I would listen to this, the label/Draper/producer Major Matt Mason included The Lottery Song, written by one Harry Nilsson. I have always thought Nilsson underrated by the hoi polloi and it thrills me to hear it. Draper does Nilsson proud, I think, with the help of The Voyces' Brian Wurschum. It has a bit of the mid-50s in it, sounding like a better-produced Patience and Prudence (if either Patience or Prudence were a guy). A light-hearted and fun pop song, to be sure.
As EPs go, this is a good one. Draper cannot stay under the radar too much longer, judging purely by the tracks included here. She has a touch which is really undescribable without hearing. It's something personal, maybe? Or maybe it's just me. All I know is, it is good. Actually, better than good. Check out her website. She deserves it. If you do, you deserve it too.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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