Album Review: Surroundings by Lisa Kane

Album Name: Surroundings
Artist: Lisa Kane
Year/Label: 2003 / Independent

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Review by Pierce Foxe

Lisa Kane’s most recent cd, “Surroundings” is a triumph of poetic sentiment and musical diversity. Lisa has a lot to say, and she says it well. In doing so, she takes great care to match the instrumentation to the message. Her selection and use of supporting musicians, and her collaboration with co-producer, Randy Gildersleeve, are consistently effective.

The opening cut, “I’m Sorry I Missed That” captures the ethos of the “community” of a bygone time. Linda Tennison’s light mandolin lines impart a “traditional” feel, which serves the nostalgia impeccably. And when it’s over, we too, are sorry we missed that.

In the song “Katy”, John Devine’s plaintive sax adds the pathos, which Lisa’s poetry calls for. Incest is a social evil, which is much more common than any of us would like to think. Songs, which explore it, with the tenderness and insight of this one, are most uncommon.

And so it goes. Urgent violin, twinkling piano, tasteful guitar breaks that know when to stop…whatever the songs need… they get. I’m leaving a lot out. This is a multi-textured record. Both the poetry and the arrangements disclose new layers with each successive hearing.

One of the most impressive cuts is “Full Life.” Our fragile mortality is explored, by means of a metaphor, whereby a “phone call” from an angel, a mother, and a lover, are successively hoped to be “wrong numbers.”

Beneath this extremely good piece of writing, are a strummed guitar track, overlayed with a lead line, which is haunting in its simplicity, and was born to bring out the reflective side in the most casual soul among us.

All in all, what you have here are good writing, astute arrangement and production, some articulate social commentary, a strong sense of heritage, supported by expert and diverse musicianship, and fronted by warm, conversational vocals. That covers a lot of what I buy records for. Probably you too.

Pierce Foxe July 21, 2003

Posted on August 18, 2003

Track Listing
1. Sorry I Missed That
2. Ma’am
3. Katy
4. Mother Nature’s Way
5. Dreams
6. Across the Bridge
7. Anything You Need
8. Myself To Blame
9. Hold On
10.Tumble in Grace
11.Full Life

[Lisa Kane Official Site]

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