Trying to box Lorraine Feather in is akin to playing with quicksilver. Her latest, her 10th, is nothing like the last, Tales of the Unusual, a disc I'm still floored by, a year later, and the key to that elusiveness may lay in the knowledge of her real name: Billie (after her godmother, Billie Holiday), Jane (after her mother, a big band singer who roomed with Peggy Lee), Lee (after Peggy), Lorraine (recall the song Sweet Lorraine), Feather (her dad was the archetypal American jazz critic Leonard Feather). Lotsa influences there. Down Beat added to the catalogue by naming her "a lyrical Dorothy Parker", a wry appellation and quite on the mark. Feather's versifications would be great fodder for the catty-n-serious dinner-n-drinks Algonquin Round Table.
This time out, she waxes autobiographical and then some, thus the introspective element is deepened appreciably through chamber and other modes. Anna Lee is the sort of Broadway tear-jerker Virgina Woolf might have penned after meeting the Bronte sisters, while 159 be-bops around the kitchen table in pedestrian everyday life and its metaphors ("The monkey chewed tobacco / And the goose drank wine / And they all went to heaven at 1:59") playing around with the tale's characters and apartment/house location. The doleful refrains of We Have Stars, a mournful ode to love, is replaced by the scatty I Love You Guys, a romp centered in the vagarious fortunes of band life, and so we're danced from parlor to hallway to nightclub in a sometimes dizzying whirl unspooling like a late night art house film.
The musical appurtenances are splashes of the stellar—Russ Ferrante, Dave Grusin, Grant Geissman, Charlie Bisharat, Bach (yep!)—and the result is a cross between Randy Newman, Schubert, Ben Sidran, and Laura Nyro floating in the skies, wafting through autumnal woods, or scrambling madly, happily, distractedly on terra firma. Of all Feather's many solos, in which every word written came from her own pen, this is going to be the one held at arm's length more than any other, a repertoire oscillating between searing, wistful, and hilarious…but mostly pensive, riven with the sorrow and pains of existence offset by those moments and adventures which spangle our days, weeks, and years, lifting the low points back up to tolerability. There's a reason Vonnegut named our mudball 'Slaughterhouse 5', and what informed him also informs much of this CD. Be especially careful of The Veil or that beer in front of you just might find itself turning into a lachrymally ersatz sangria. I'm betting few will be able to sit through Attachments from beginning to end, but I'm quite knowing in predicting that everyone will return to it again and again.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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