Rescued, if that’s the right word, from the Beat Surrender inbox I’m glad this album didn’t pass me by, this is the third release from Birmingham AL four-piece Delicate Cutters, the band are fronted by Janet Elizabeth Simpson (guitars and lead vocal) who takes writing credit for all of the original tracks on the album, the rhythm section comprises Chance Shirley (drums and percussion) and Brian C. Moon (bass and vocals) and the line-up is completed by Kevin Nicholson on fiddle.
The album a a fairly eclectic affair, which from a band named after a Throwing Muses track and playing “americana” is hardly surprising, in fact one of the best tracks New Life manages to successfully blend fiddle with great vocals building to some Kristen Hersh style guitar work before fading out indie style – love it.
I hadn’t planned on writing anything about Crooked but I saw this piece on American Songwriter and it prompted me into action, purchased on a whim I was intrigued by the book angle (I will resist the temptation to call it a novel concept………well maybe not), there is a CD only release too and of course it’s on iTunes.
The book contains a code, made up from a pair of words in the essays, to download the album itself as well as a pair of companion EPs and other extra’s, the tracks themselves are available in mp3 format, FLAC and Apple Lossless, there’s also an audio commentary by Hersh about album, all-in-all a great multi-media experience and definitely a pattern that ought to be more widely adopted in my humble opinion.
The book itself contains a series of essays one for each track as well as the song lyrics and some stunning digital photographs by Lisa Fletcher, there’s a webpage dedicated to Crooked where you can listen and download the demo’s to the album and everything is released under a Creative Commons license as well as the “stems” for the demo’s allowing the artistic to have a go at creating their own mixes of the tracks.
As much as I like the convenience and ease of digital music for me the whole experience is so much better when I can hold in my hands the CD or vinyl or as in this case a book, at the risk of sounding precious about it all having something tactile to associate with the music makes the whole experience more rewarding.
Well what about the music, I have little to compare it with in terms of Hersh’s extensive back catalogue as I only own one Throwing Muses album so that angle is out of the window, the project is very much a one woman show, the writing, production, singing and instrumentation all provided by Hersh and what a cracking piece of work it is, marrying the darkly poetic lyrics, Hersh’s fractured vocal, grungy guitar and overdubbed drums and instrumentation results in a really compelling listen, my pick of the tracks Mississippi Kite which I’ve played far too many times this week……… here’s the version from the Speedbath sessions the final mastered version is available on Hersh’s website