This appears to be good time for a revival of stripped down combos matrixing showcases of individual talents, and Ellynne Plotnick's I Will benefits from the sentiment. With just the celebrated John Tropea, from whom we hear too little and not often enough, on guitar and the equally lauded Harvie S (Harvie Swartz) on bass, she enjoys a gentle background against which to ply her equally gentle craft. The key to I Will, as you may have guessed, is a goodly degree of serenity…but it does come laced with a barb or two, and isn't that always the case? Here, maybe more so than you'll expect.
I wouldn't have started out, as Plotnick or co-producer Seth Glassman did, with Falling. It would've much better served as a middle or ending song, a bit more abstract and angular than much of the rest of the CD. Not that it isn't a good song, it is, but her reading of Lennon & McCartney's I Will, for which the disc is named, is the perfect preface. It's also deceptive, however—just as Plotnick's poetry is existentially, not Harlequin Romancily, contemplative—and that sort of thing never leads to flowery platitudes or sunny-faced exercises in empty positivity. If you'll hark back to it, the couplet in L&M's ditty: "Will I wait a lonely lifetime? / If you want me to, I will" and the masochism inherent in such an odd emotion reveals a more realistic look at over-sentimentalization.
Nowhere is that more cleverly found than in I'm Sorry, I Really Mean It This Time, where one small adverbial phrase, "this time", reverses what seems to be heartfelt, showing the cliché to be just another clever ploy by an advantage-taker. Though Plotnick's voice is sweet, smooth, and well-studied, relaxing, a tonic against the stresses of the world, she also reminds one of Lorraine Feather (here) and the darker undercurrents to be found in that chanteuse's work. Thus, not only is ours an era where things are made more plain but also more artfully obfuscatory, where you have to pay attention to nuance and sly manners. The last cut, I Want a Place in your Heart returns to plain-spoken hope and desire, but I suspect you'll find yourself pleasantly shocked, intrigued, at the dissonance 'twixt word and sound elsewhere.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles