Marianne Kesler has produced one of the most deceptive albums of the 21st Century with Pear in the Pick Thing. At first, it sounds like any other of a few thousand soft rock albums of past years, but a few songs in you begin to realize that it really doesn't. There is a depth to Kesler's music which slowly sinks in and carries you away and that, seriously, does not happen often. Odds are against it happening here, but it does.
Kesler's voice is pleasant, but not overwhelming. The songs she writes are good, but not overwhelming. The musicianship is good, but not overwhelming. You think. But there is a stealth in Pear, a stealth probably not planned, but definitely realized. This album does not stand on the sum of its parts. It stands, and stands strongly, on the sum, period.
The heart, of course, is the music. Surrounded by the other blood organs—Kesler's excellent phrasing and unassuming delivery, the exceptional musicianship of J. Benjamin Kesler (who plays most instruments, and there are plenty), and the basic themes and feel of the songs—that heart beats strong. Add to those the absolutely outstanding production job by J. Benjamin and you have an album of note.
Marianne Kesler lays out ten originals so impressively that after numerous listens, I don't want to hear them individually. In the biz, it is called sequencing. You organize the songs in sequence with varying gaps between in hopes of creating something more than just—there is no better way to put this—a sequence of songs. It could not have been more successful. From one through ten, you get Kesler unveiled, as it should be.
I'm sure there are critics out there who will jump on the inclusion of her "Here's two Neil Young" tracks which end the album. Truth is, I was ready to pan them, not being interested in two-bit covers of classics. I am now eating the two-bits. Kesler's handling of Young's songs is masterful and understated. Ohio is just off the mark enough to make it more than just a cover (the ending is too short, but it hits the mark) and Kesler's voice on The Needle and the Damage Done is downright eerie with its Neil Young-like wavering tones.
I wish I could come up with some profound phrase which would have people busting down Internet doors in search of "Pear in the Pink Thing." Not for Marianne Kesler—she has to be very pleased with the album—but for those who constantly bemoan the supposed fact that there just isn't that much good music out there anymore. It is supposed, not fact. In fact, here it is.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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