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The Long Picnic

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Album Review

It is a tough toss calling this a rock album; if labels were horseshoes, no winning points would result in making such a distinction. Stephanie Rearick is part of the Madison, WI, music scene and her activities might be lumped in with all other manner of indie rock from a college town predictably full of such bands. But this debut album under her own name is a solo piano affair, featuring both instrumentals and vocals. While it is certainly possible to rock out on piano, even without a band, there is really very little of that going on here — in fact, close to zilch. This is a dreamy, contemplative collection of mostly ballads, all of the material original except for covers of Béla Bartók and Alex Chilton. Even just on paper, this latter repertoire decision indicates great versatility and a wide range of musical interests on behalf of this performer. Her lyrics are also worth a mental probe, although like much material of this sort, it inspires less as printed text then as a vehicle for her expansive, at times eccentric singing style. "Not Another Minute" is about the liveliest song of the bunch, its lyrics blending bad taste with sardonic humor in a manner that shows Rearick's great potential as a songwriter. "The Man Who Stole Tomorrow" and "Wading" are more typical of her material: melancholy, rubato, and vague. The material on this recording, and Rearick's solo performing in general, seems like it would communicate with much more power in a live setting, where listeners would be able to watch her at work on the piano, an instrument she obviously loves deeply. No complaint can be made about the skill with which the sound of this instrument is recorded on this production, however. Two different pianos were used; some of the tracks were created on her house piano, while others originate from a recording studio's 1928 grand piano. Her instrumental pieces provide a welcome balance to the vocal material, especially the Bartók. Indeed, it would be wise for her to continue including such material in her recordings, as she does it quite well. An exception might be "Folk Tune"; the opening tune on the CD, this instrumental at first sets a nice mood, but her improvisations in the middle of this track are quite dull, sticking to musical developments so mundane that some listeners may lose interest completely.

Biography

Born: Madison, WI

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Pianist Stephanie Rearick began playing the piano at age six, listening to composers such asDebussy and Bartók while also leaning toward rock music. She formed several trance rock bands throughout the '90s while also cultivating her solo work, leading her to eventually...
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The Long Picnic, Stephanie Rearick
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