Squawk Radio

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Liz Offers Music for a Mellow, Rainy Day

Originally uploaded by EliBev.
Well, it's mellow and rainy HERE, at least. At last. (I think we've FINALLY said goodbye to summer after a record-breaking 87-degree day this week. Sheesh.)

Now then. What’s the most remarkable thing about Sondre Lerche’s debut album, “Faces Down”? Is it that the songs were written when he was only seventeen (or younger)? That the CD came out when he was only nineteen (and was delayed a year after completion so that he could finish school first)? That there’s a remarkable maturity, both musically and emotionally for one so young? That it’s reminiscent of a decade that predated the kid’s birth by twenty years? That he hardly sounds Norwegian at all when he sings? All of the above?

Whatever. Remarkable the album is. And quite lovely, too. Overrun with accoustic guitar and lyrics that are gentle, yet still kinda teenager edgy, it reminds me a lot of those albums from the 60s that might have provided background music for the neighborhood cocktail hours--right down to the fluid, feminine “lalalalala” background vocals on the opening, title, track. According to Lerche’s web site, one of his influences (among a VERY eclectic list) was Burt Bacharach. Not surprising. What is surprising is that John Lennon isn’t listed as an influence, because when I listen to the album, I hear a lot of late 60s Lennon in the mix, as well.

Let me put it this way. I discovered Sondre Lerche (and frankly, I’m still not sure of the pronunciation, though a local DJ pronounced his name “SONdray LAIRkay”) by walking into a music store when the CD was playing. What first caught my attention was the smooth timbre of the singer’s voice. And at first, I thought I was listening to jazz. Then the next tune made me think pop. Then the next tune made me think folk. By then I realized I was only hanging around the music store to hear what would come next. Obviously, I had to buy the CD and take it home with me.

I’m so glad I did. Sondre Lerche said of “Faces Down” that it “came from that first uplifting rush of spontaneous inspiration in discovering that you can write songs.” I suspect that’s much like the spontaneous rush of inspiration that comes in discovering you can write a novel. Maybe that’s why I respond to it so much.

Or maybe it’s just because “Faces Down” is a rich, lavish, folk-pop-jazz-accoustic symphony that leaves the listener sighing with mellow contentment. Mostly, I like it for a rainy day or driving at night. Or as the background music for my next neighborhood cocktail hour. Cheers, everybody!
Elizabeth Bevarly, 12:09 PM