Tuesday, June 14, 2005

petra haden and bill frisell

petra is, of course, the singing/fiddling daughter of bluegrass warbling tot-turned-titanic jazz bassist charlie haden. she usedta be in that dog and she's the party responsible for the recently-released acapella version of the who sell out that i love so well. bill was, to hear shannon jackson tell it, plucked from the trio power tools and earmarked for stardom by record company suits. i dunno about that, but i know frisell's recorded a string of idiosyncratic albums for ecm and, uh, nonesuch. as a jazz guitarist, he's more of a rustic pastoralist a la pat metheny (minus the missourian's ornette obsession) than anybody's idea of a fire-breathing chops-monster, and that's fine. this is, after all, primarily a singer's album, and in that line, frisell does his job, which is to provide settings and color and otherwise stay out of haden's way. in places here, he variously sounds to me like leo kottke, pete townshend, and a y'allternative jimi kendrix.

in these days of singer-songwriters whose relationship to their material is approximately 1:1 ("i am my song and my song is me"), it's refreshing to hear a vocalist who actually _interprets_. while a couple of the song choices are kinda questionable (hint: they do a coldplay song; can _you_ guess which one? riiight!), haden mostly inhabits and transforms her material the way a great singer's supposed to. the crystalline purity of her voice is matched only by her keen arranger's ear, and she sings the shit out of whatever's put in front of her, whether it's a foo fighters song ("floaty"), a traditional song from tuva (home of the famous throat-singers), or tom waits' "i don't want to grow up." her dreamily ethereal-yet-unsentimental approach is effective even with potentially cloying toonage like "moon river" (a favorite at my house, where we're unashamedly into old audrey hepburn flicks), the disney chestnut "when you wish upon a star," or stevie wonder's "i believe." i like. i like a lot.


Post a Comment

<< Home