A number of interesting things are happening in Lisa Mills' I'm Changing. I'd reviewed her 2011 Tempered in Fire (here) and was righteously knocked through a wall by it, rarely hearing that kind of intensity any more. When I extracted myself, brushed off the drywall dust and tattered wallpaper, I, contorted like a sideshow snakeman, had to go see a chiropractor. As I walked in the office, the doc took one look at me and said "Ah, I see you've just heard the new Mills CD!" After he'd yanked me nine ways from Sunday, I was ready for a second listen. This time, though, with I'm Changing, I decided it was best to don a straitjacket (don't ask) and fall back into a well-padded Lazy Boy, prepared not to be caught offguard.
However, what wafted out of the speakers was demonstrably differentiated from Fire. Like a dog watching a cat suddenly walking upside down, I cocked my head in puzzlement. It was definitely Mills, but the sound and ambience appeared to have gone backwards in time. "Interesting!," I thought, "but how the hell did she achieve that?" Intrigued, I glommed the promo lit. It was a bit confusing, so I searched the Net, and Kick Starter yielded up what solved the querulousness: her latest is not exactly her latest but instead an overhaul and partial-to-full reconstruction of the out-of-print 2005 disc. There's a back story.
Cleaning out her home office one day after Fire, she ran across the original raw tracks for what had become Changing, listened to them, and was struck by how good they were…but noticeably different from the final product. Somehow, the process of making that first disc had occluded what her vision had been, had fallen victim to an occurrence pretty common in musicmaking, compromised by the million and one decisions, perplexities, and exigencies that go into such things, the manifold compromises. Dear reader, how many times in your life have you had a real chance to do something over again and make it better? Well, that's what Mills decided, going to KickStarter with many doubts…until her many loyal fans came through with $30,000 from just 215 contributants. Man, those people are some serious sumbitches!
And these were people who mostly likely already had the first CD version and were dying to see what would happen. Again: hard-core aficionados! Now they know, and because they were so well disposed toward art, so do we, so let me cite my fave track: it's the title cut, I'm Changing. In it, you find everything she would do in Fire but with a lot more in foundation influences, as the song at times sounds like tortured madrigal, Mills wailing about the misfortune of shifting oneself forward when one's lover won't. In it, we find she was dead-on about the unearthed sounds: raw and then some, naked, with all the passion one's salad days imbue. I'm betting money to milkbones the KickStarter contributants are REALLLLLY happy they funded this one, but I'm telling the rest of you: this is way different from Fire. And that's a good thing.
I catch echoes of Sandy Denny, Led Zep's Gallows Pole and Misty Mountain Hop, and other influences embedded in an atmosphere that seems as would accompany Donovan, Joni, and Janis back in the day. Her version of Hendrix's Little Wing follows in suit, with a bit of Dylan/Band in it, not to mention Colin Linden. Much of the result of this turn-around in so vividly capturing what was sorely scamped the first time around was accomplished in tandem with Grammy award winning Trina Shoemaker, the only woman ever to have copped that honor as a sound engineer. To sweeten the pot, two cuts were fully re-recorded and three are brand new, so there's alot to like on every level.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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