I haven’t finished formulating my disclaimer policy and category yet, so here’s a little aside.  There’s a random drawing associated with doing a review of the music I’m about to rap on.

I asked Solarbird to leave me out of the drawing.  I’m doing this review because she put out the request and I dig her style.  Freedom of expression is a big deal for me, and I want to be as honest and upfront as possible without any nagging thoughts of “a winnar is me” syndrome.

Free is a very good price for the personal touch of music, a novel or a picture of cats; but nothing is what I work for at times and this is one of those times.

Now, on with the show!

I’ve followed Solarbird from long distance sensor scans.  She’s intrigued me with her busking at outdoor markets and fairs in the Northwest.  There was a video of her performing which I thought was pretty good.  Hey, performing in front of crowds on the wind’s good humor is no mean task.

For a while now she’s been getting serious about sound and recording quality, doing a lot of preparatory work herself while working double time on her music.  Whoa, this could be a special treat.  I’ve been waiting like a coiled eel to strike when the yummy morsels are released for tasting.

062_crimeandtheforcesofevilSo, what do we have here?

I have to say that the name Crime and the Forces of Evil is a pretty powerful and awesome name.  The title of the CD, “Sketchy Characters” conjures images of bold-faced loonies and not-eating-with-both-hands oddballs of questionable habits.

The music is essentially four songs of a folk instrumentation with an elf singing vocals.  Not much crime or evil though, and only one sketchy character—but she’s enough!

The mere fact of vocals caught me off guard. The expectations I built up for myself were that this would be instrumental.  Shows you how pesky one’s preconceptions can be!

I dislike the vocals.  They totally kill the music for me.  The singer’s voice just doesn’t blend well with the instruments.  The sound drowns out the music and even the singer’s own lyrics.

In all honesty it might be my creative agenda talking here.  With a different sound or approach this singer could work for me.  She sounds detached from the rest of the ensemble and out of sorts with herself—which might be the point!  Maybe a Frank Zappa angle would work better.

I listened through again to pick up the lyrics and they held up—I like them. Maybe with a different approach they’d pack more punch.  See, my creative agenda is about extremes of emotion and atmospherics—I want to be thrilled and have an out of body experience.  Songs like “Artefacts (You’ll Never See)” and “When You Leave” could hit any number of nerves with the right delivery—the absurd, the bitter, or the heartfelt.

The last track, “Cascadia (How I Have Missed You)” is purely instrumental (whew!).  Without that annoying elf eating into my brain I could see what’s going on inside the meat and potatoes.  I enjoyed this one.  Reminded me of meaningful, passionate times.

Maybe it’s my own nostalgia for the Northwest (a deeply personal thing for me) as telegraphed by the title that is influencing me.  But on another level, instrumental pieces with a title allow for those who wish only to dream and experience their own inner strength.  I think this is the musicing direction Solarbird should explore.

In other words, what if crime and the forces of evil is about the supreme crime—daring to feel and inspire others to find their own introversions of discovery?

Solarbird has mentioned before in her website that confidence is her boogey.  Maybe; I’m unsure of that—It takes a crumb of confidence at least to stand up on stage, to release one’s work out for all of us to respond with our own lifeforce.  Rather, I sense that there’s a vein of dirty, angry, elemental energy waiting to be recognized to unlock a latent passion.

See, I understand self-doubt as it refers to Cascadia—wanting to belt loose and express how I feel yet not knowing fully in the back of my mind if I have a right to those feelings.  How to remove that blockage and respond with clarity how I have missed that place from the bottom of my pond.  No easy thing.

Is that cranky elf a guardian? A guide? A foe?  I’m looking at my sylvan friend and striving to hear her words more clearly.  Oh, if she were only less sketchy!  What if I the listener am of the aforementioned forces of evil and don’t deserve to enter the glades and hear the words?

Yet then there is the lone musical piece that says nothing and therefore need not say anything else.  An invitation? Surrender? A confession?  Hopefully the full-length album will offer a more complete picture. This four-piece set is still in The Dip.