Archive for February, 2011

Record Review: Sara Beck’s “Technicolor”

February 22, 2011

by Dave Carew

Let me skip the preliminaries: This record is an absolute gem. In a human landscape in which people move through shades of light and shadow—seasons of the soul—Technicolor celebrates that season in which the soul is blessed by affirmation, sensuality, cool sexuality . . . the profound feeling that one is alive and not merely sleepwalking. And it explores that terrain with music that will have you dancing in your kitchen. “Ode to Joy” never did that for you.

Listening to stand-out tracks such as “Waterfall Sun” and “Technicolor” is to experience an artist so gifted and assured of her craft that she is able to paint music that sounds like those rare, magical times when the very consciousness of being alive feels like your second glass of wine.

“Technicolor” (the song) is especially pertinent as I write this, because it was inspired by Sara’s visit to Washington during the inauguration of President Obama—and the auguries of positive change she felt amid Obama’s people-of-all-colors coalition. Although it’s easy to dismiss songs of this nature (think John Lennon’s “Imagine” or John Mayer’s “Waitin’ on the World to Change”) as utopian and simplistic, the world and its better angels sometimes step up to prove otherwise. When Sara Beck sings “we’re the generation that’s going to change the world,” who, watching peace slowly come to Iraq . . . and freedom slowly flower across the Middle East . . . would dare to argue with her?

Sara Beck’s official CD Release Show for ‘Technicolor’ will be on Thursday, April 7 at The Basement in Nashville.

For more information about Sara Beck and to hear selections from her new record, visit SaraBeck.net.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and copywriter.

Sara Beck releases “Technicolor” CD

February 15, 2011

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience.” “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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Sara Beck releases “Technicolor” CD

by Dave Carew

If you ask me to cast my ballot for “Most Talented While Still Under-Appreciated Singer-Songwriter in Nashville,” Sara Beck gets my vote hands down. Although she spent much of 2010 touring Europe and opening for (the) Kevin Costner and his band Modern West—just months after turning in what, to me, was the best club show of 2009 (her album release party featuring Gabe Dixon and Jeremy Lister at 12th & Porter)—Sara still doesn’t seem to generate the breathless ink others get routinely . . . and which her talent warrants infinitely more.

Here’s hoping that will change with the release of her new record, Technicolor.

Asked by Underground Nashville what inspired the album, Sara told me, “I made this album after getting really into new music by Corinne Bailey Rae, Feist, and John Legend, and revisiting records I have loved by Sade and Stevie Wonder. I didn’t want to shy away from weighty material, but I wanted the music itself to feel sexy and bold.”

To give her fans a taste of the new record, Sara has posted short videos on YouTube, introducing a few of the songs. To check these out, go to YouTube and search for “Sara Beck+The Game” (particularly recommended), “Sara Beck+Technicolor,” and/or “Sara Beck+Portugal.”

Underground Nashville will post a complete review of Technicolor next week.

Sara Beck will be performing on Saturday, March 5 at 9 p.m. with Guilty Pleasures at Mercy Lounge and on Thursday, March 17 with Guilty Pleasures at the Cannery Ball Room in Nashville.

Sara’s official in-town “Technicolor” CD Release Show will be on Thursday, April  7 at The Basement.

For more information about Sara Beck and to hear selections from her new record, visit SaraBeck.net.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and copywriter.

Record Review: “An Introduction to Elliott Smith”

February 2, 2011

by Dave Carew


“Why would you want any other, when you’re a world within a world?”

- – Elliott Smith

I love Elliott Smith’s music so much that the thought of a single album sufficing as an “Introduction” to his work was initially a turn-off. I thought to myself, “How can you possibly create a sufficient ‘introduction’ to an artist who was this important, this indelible, who produced all those masterpieces?” But the word “indelible” is, after all, about remembrance, so I found myself, in the next moment, moving toward gratitude that someone (in this case, the record label Kill Rock Stars) was doing something to keep Elliott’s beautiful, haunting music alive.

In a piece published three years ago by the Nashville rock magazine Shake!, I tried to encapsulate why, to me, Elliott Smith is such an important artist. I wrote:

“[A] key aspect of Elliott Smith’s [art] is his stunning willingness to take off ‘the male mask.’ Time after time, listening to Smith’s songs, one is struck by his extraordinary bravery in openly exploring male grief, loneliness, vulnerability, frustration, and anger. In doing so, he is the antithesis of everything we associate with the slick, macho rock star.

“Elliott Smith once said his art was an attempt to convey ‘what it’s like to be a person.’ It was his special gift for voicing otherwise unvoiced feelings—particularly those resting in lonely, often alienated men—that helped give his [music] such distinct, surpassing power.”

As Anthony Davis of Expunged Records writes in the liner notes of the tribute album To Elliott, from Portland, “To his fans, Elliott was someone who told your sad story and made you feel like you were not alone. He took your desperation, your toils and torments, and he made them beautiful, and in doing so he made you beautiful.”

Elliott Smith committed suicide on October 21, 2003 at the age of 34, but not before offering the world the 14 magnificent songs on this album. If you care about what the singer/songwriter’s art can be—in its ability to paint impressions of a beautiful and painful world and make those impressions the soul’s elegy—come here. Discover a world within a world.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and copywriter.

 

 


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