Various artists

Various artists
A-Bazouki - Volume 1

Un-gyve Recordings

By David Wilson
April 2012

On one of the discs in this two disc set, Julie and Lisa Nemrow perform 14 self composed songs. On the second disc, a DVD, five of those songs are used to provide a soundtrack for four sets of obscure, sometimes unresolvable cinematic images and a fifth, a Max and Dave Fleischer Betty Boop parody of Through the Looking Glass.

While all the songs via their titles claim to be blues, they are not, at least not blues in the sense you, I presume, or I would ascribe, although all claim some association with the blues by dint of dedication to bluesmen, Blind Willie, Sonny Boy, Robert Johnson, Albert King…

Instead they are for the most part poetic laments and as poetry are effective if obscure. Maybe I mean they are effective because they are obscure sort of…

Well, I suspect by now you think I am confused about this particular item and you are right.

As a concept, this package is ambitious. So ambitious that it is difficult to know just where to grab a hold and examine.

As poetry, it works pretty well, evincing images that take coherent form in my mindscape.

He was a sugar
When he was sober
Most times he wasn’t sober
But he was lucky
Yeah lucky like a four leaf clover
(verse from “Lucky”)

Maybe you left the wrong number
Baby just say what you meant to do
I call and I get no answer
I didn’t think that you wanted me to
(verse from “Bowlin’ Green Blues”)

Good poems call out to be sung, but here the arrangements do nothing to enhance the expression of the ideas inherent. The presentation is flat and monotonous. I suspect that it is intentionally so, as a way of communicating depression born of disappointment, disaffection and isolation, but the lack of emotional range from beginning to end of the collection, let alone within any given song, is tedious. That may be the artists’ intent, but if so, it fails to hold interest for me.

Curiously, when “Basement Blues” is coupled with the above-mentioned Betty Boop cartoon, the contrast between the sonorous lament and the whimsy of the animated action creates a tension that is quite compelling.

As an experiment, I find this an interesting package. As music, I find it wanting and rather intensely flawed. As blues, it is not even in the ballpark.

To check it out for yourself, where you will find info and a link to itunes.

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