Brilliant. Incredible voice. Remarkable lyrics and music
This is the most original, thrilling, passionate and intelligent album that I have heard this year.
Lipman writes all of the lyrics and music, plays all of the instruments, sings all of the vocals. This is *one man*!
The voice! Imagine a combination of the deep, powerful resonance of Nick Cave--shivers--that can also shift to the knowing intellect of John Lennon, or the rich full range of Josh Grobin. You hear experience, love, strength, and wisdom.
Then the songs--I remember reading a review in the New Yorker a few weeks back about albums in which each and every song stands on its own--without a miss. This album does this like nothing I have heard since Sgt. Pepper. Truly an original--with a mind, music, perspective and feeling that creates a powerful, moving, highly intelligent yet strong and passionate style, where lyrics of remarkable human understanding, clarity, depth, and humor (think Elvis Costello throughout his early to late periods combined with a kind of grounded wisdom and reach for essential truth that I have never heard before)
The ballads have a truth and depth that makes them timeless statements about love: "The Cost" is beautiful, a standout--gorgeous piano, a gorgeously mastered string ensemble, and the voice, reaching into the heart--a perfect ballad to the last trails of the strings. "I'd Rather Close My Eyes" is a soaring and definative statement of the moment when we turn from love--the final note, a soaring, incredibly powerful and long held high C, moving from the lower register--is oen of those moments in which music, lyrics, melody and emotion meld in an unforgettable moment.
Lipman has obviously lived, thought, and felt deeply--listen to the wry wisdom of experience in "Dirty Life",--which combines a touch of Dylan, Springsteen and John Hiatt in this knowing perspective on life, the lyrics transcending into a Beatles-like bridge, but with a music and beat that recognizes the humor as well as the clear sighted recognition of how the protagonist could transform from a "paragon" to a "woman" to an "animal" in "Dirty Life--but then the recognition--frequently with Lipman--of the ironic appreciation of time.
"Motorcycle Interstitial" is sublime--echoing piano octaves, as Lipman, in echoing haunting vocal, as he often does in these songs, sings and speaks at multiple levels--an echoing haunting dream; "Beholden", a strikingly unique song, complete with wind and far off signals, as a story is told of the sweeping course of development within a childhood of chaos, imprisonment, and escape, as children feel the sense of dysfunction around them and "wipe it like a smear of paint...across the air...that they felt had something else..."
The brutal and hard "You Pay The Price", in which a driving beat and wild keys surround an scathing portrayal and indictment of the weakness of the ignorant violent. This is followed by the full-out orchestral creativity of "A Physical Thing", which speaks of a woman's affair that, counterposed to the rationalizations that scatter around her worried mind, are surrounded by the emotional and personal complexity of her actual experience. The track adds carillion, wedding bells, stereo-sweeping subway chimes, barking dogs, set against a beautifully orchesrated full string section itself playing multiple parts--concluding with a amazing growing orchestral crescendo of all parts that evokes "All You Need Is Love". Then, the uncanny, ethereal "The Joke" portrays the eternal position of vulnerable lovers, with a stunning shift to a universal perspective that is both wry yet tender in its understanding of the human plight, in the final stanza. "The Joke was that there was a City/Enveloping their new choices/Caressing their uninvolved pity/Diffusing the control in their voices/And sending it off/Beyond the Towers/Which await/As they always will/The Joke, ah/The Joke, ah/The Joke, ah...
There are soulful naturalistic songs, like "Hold Yourself Against The Day", a true, surrounding support to a woman as she walks through life. There are richly narrative story songs, like "Pennsylvania Avenue", in which Lipman guides us with his deep voice through the sections and lives of a city gripped by power, love, and need; and there are infused integrations of politics and soul that create something altogether new--the stunning "Unintended Consequences."
When you listen to this, you will be amazed that all of this--the lyrics, the music, all of the instruments, all of the vocals--everything!--was created by one person.
This is an achievement--a narrative that guides us through the powerful emotions that we experience as we move through life. It offers new understandings of these experiences, and reaches directly--at once--into the heart, mind, and soul to do so. Each time I listen, I find new ideas, sensations, and experiences.
The best yet of '07 and '08.