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Middlin Sisters

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Reseña de álbum

Minton Sparks is a wonder. She's a performance poet from the Deep South that portrays Arkansas — and the South in general — in a way Bill Clinton either never knew or, if he did, never once dared mention. This is the South that Thomas Wolfe's Eugene Gant so desperately needed to leave. If you can picture Gillian Welch not being from L.A., and speaking rather than singing, you are beginning to get the picture. Better yet, Richard Buckner as a woman speaking clearly rather than mumbling, or even picture Flannery O'Connor as a performance poet without any of the pretentious New York Poetry Slam connotations that the word "performance" carries. Middlin' Sisters is a dark record, but not one without humor. Its 12 selections are reflections and observations of a life most of us could never know, or want to. With musical accompaniment by Marcus Hummon, Darryl Scott, and Rob Jackson, and no less than Waylon Jennings lending a hand as a fallen preacher on the album's last track. There are plenty of slide guitars and mandolins winding their way through a spare but riveting mix. Each of the selections are poignant, even scary in Sparks' plaintive delivery. In "Mississippi Moonshine," with a nasty Dobro keeping her strolling, Sparks intones: "She'd a been the first issued a DUI on the Mississippi/My Gypsy used to say/out on the bow of a muddy Mississippi barge on a sweltering Delta night/Thelma anchored/Nipping hidden moonshine beneath a cloud of weary/Been cookin' in the kitchen since sun up/Ankles swollen beyond the banks of her shoes/The Dark drank the color from her yellow hair/As it fell oily in whiskey girls around her once beautiful face/Thelma was cursed by extremes: beauty, a penchant for strong anything, and barge kitchen men/Drunk, drivin' right down the middle of the muddy waters/She begged the sky a favor/The answer came on moonshine fumes written against the night/Being too much of oneself needs no forgiveness." There's also "Trella's Trash," with a claw hammer banjo. A story of "mama's" favorite aunt, told by the community whose "lies were told Arkansas style," about a woman who was 91 years old and left her husband after 65 years of marriage. This was a woman whose "Dark was the only hand she had left to hold." When Sparks moves from the gothic, she gets strangely philosophical, and its no less brutal, with "Words of Wisdom" imparted from Mee Maw, a crazy sage who paints a red circle on the wall of the barn every time her daughter marries another man. She says: "Time changes nothin' girl, but the size of your underwear/And hopefully your hairdo." After ranting about her daughter for a bit, Sparks says, "She turns her heavy prophecy on me: You girl, you'll end up in a double-wide sure as shootin'/with five at your feet/dust foggin' the white sheets you keep/hangin' out to dry." This record is short, most of its poems no more than a minute-and-a-half long, but it doesn't need to be; longer than it is — most of us couldn't take it. This is tough work, nearly unbearable in its rough-hewn beauty and tattered grace. This poetry is like Whitman's in that it sings, like Rosemary Danielle's in its disturbing revelations of a mysterious secret South, offered without judgment or cynicism, and like Wanda Coleman's in its toughness. The poems themselves resonate deeply within the listener, moving her from piece to piece on the edge of her seat, falling into reverie for the moment only to be yanked out of it again and again in wonder and sometimes disturbed at how beautiful some of these disturbing images are. Minton Sparks is a treasure whose imprint is only now being traced upon the culture; when the full weight of it comes to bear, don't say you weren't warned. Middlin' Sisters is the finest spoken word recording issued in America in more than ten years.


Género: Recitación

Años de actividad: '00s

Nashville-based poet Minton Sparks proved there is some room for literary, arty fusions of spoken word with traditional folk in the oft-conservative southern country-folk scene. Her laconic, sometimes sad and mordant, tales evoke quotidian country southern life. For her 2001 Middlin' Sisters CD, she backed her radio-ready, storytelling-like...
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Middlin Sisters, Minton Sparks
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