Linda Draper is schizophrenic, or seems so when you listen closely. Her music—simple, direct and beautifu—belies a complexity of soul and spirit beneath it all. In somewhat somnambulent mode, she drapes herself over you, shroudlike, feeding you a slow-motion potpourri of mood and melody which, if you pay attention, is always more than it seems.
Take, for instance, Sunburned, in which Draper channels Patience and Prudence, overlapping voice(s) in P&P's elementary style dragging the subject matter into the present. With a chorus like "…you can leave your bucket and brush at home/There's no need to paint the town red anymore/Because as far as I can tell/It already has all gone to hell," you do a double-take because there is a viper amongst the worms there—somewhere.
When Draper wrote Cell Phone, she welded basic folk to the 21st Century perfectly. During the golden era of folk (the '60s), only sci-fi fanatics could have foretold the importance and omnipresence of the phone (and a seemingly unending array of electronic media) in today's world. Draper places herself between that golden era and the futuristic and seemingly inevitable world of I, Robot with a song perhaps bemoaning the lack of real and personal contact between people. With individuals today planting cell phones to their ears while driving, eating, watching movies and even having sex, she makes her point with irony; i.e., "I'll tell you this when you get off that phone". She doesn't like them, doesn't think she needs one and says so with poetic simplicity.
Not all songs here have the irony or biting edge, but they all belong to Draper and there is no doubt. The somewhat upbeat (in contrast) Keepsake echoes '60s folk, basic percussion adding to that era's feel and, hey, you can't fault the use of the toy xylophone because it works. Traces Of sleepwalks you through life itself, a look at the fleeting fact of life itself. Hopefulness of a strange sort is the core of Kissing the Ground, which points out that "if you're still around after you fall down/You'll be kissing the ground". Use of a chamber on lead voice adds to the effect and the harmonies (supplied by Draper) are perfecto.
On a personal note, I can't say that this album is a huge leap forward. I am still absorbing Draper's previous Planting Seeds' album, One Two Three Four, and am not quite ready to put it aside in favor of Keepsake. The thing is, Draper is so unique that I find myself listening to them both and have this insatiable urge to backstep an album at a time to Ricochet, her first. I have a feeling these two eventually won't be enough. Linda Draper can evidently be addicting. I think they should put a warning on the insert.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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