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The View From Nowhere

The View From Nowhere image
Parent Issue
Month
July
Year
1996
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held By
Agenda Publications
OCR Text

Ihate to speak down to you, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to grasp the concept that as Ann Arbor became flooded with hip, sometimes moody, fade-to-black coffee houses, that some java entrepreneurs would figure out the low-budget concept of filling up the joints by offering music. The town has always been loaded with zillions of gifted singer-songwriters banging their heads against the "you-better-sell-lots-of-beer-or-don' twaste-my-time-babe" school of music appreciation practiced by brain dead rock & roll club owners (who I don't need to list, I'm sure). Of course, alcohol and loud guitars have their time and place, bu t the surge of venues for singersongwriters popping up is both a cause for celebration and a spark of encouragement for performers who in the past would have given up andor left town. Twoamazing songwriters, Audrey Becker and Lisa Hunter, both from the fascinating trio Jane Doe, are examples of talented artists who have emerged as producĂ­s of this turn of events. Both are complex and original voices and both have gigs at The Gypsy Cafe this month (Hunter and Becker on July 5th and Becker also on July 26th). And there is not a doubt in my mind that you' 11 be artistically uplifted when you catch their shows. Audrey Becker had been in the studio working on her debut CD, "Circles In The Sand" lately and if it's a fraction as good as word of her live shows (at places like The Ark, The Tap Room, Cava Java, et. al.) and her four-tune demo tape, well how perfect and wonderful this will be. Becker is a cool songwriter, with a truckload of hooks and a fresh, energetic drive that makes you want to smile, even when the lyrics focus on breakups and betrayals. But the main thing here is THE VOICE. How Becker can sound so young, so innocent AND like she's been dragged through the streets of relationship heil and still make the words ring true is nothing short of amazing. On the "Circles" title tune demo, Becker sounds like a warmer early version of Suzanne Vega on a song about a turning point of a last shot at redemption. But on "Putty In Your Hands" when she sings out the chorus line of " what you want me to be" with such a sense of resignation while sounding so seductive the voice just pulls you in and makes you sigh. While a word here or a line there on other cuts (mostly on "Cross My Heart") show that Becker isn't always the master of every note lyric-wise just yet, the collection of original tunes show Audrey Becker is really really close to being as an incredible writer as she is a singer. In contrast, Lisa Hunter and her three-tune preview of the CD "Solid Ground" (the July 26th gig is the official release party) sounds emotional but in a more detached, controlled sort of way. Hunter too writes classic popfolk songs, and also has a bit of the Suzanne Vega influence afoot. But while Becker has a naive, innocent edge while singing her tales of broken hearts, Hunter seems to be looking through dark glasses, with some of the angst and some of the edges rounded off. Hunter knows what went wrong and exactly what she wants. Rather than sitting alone, drinking herself to sleep down in the blues of some personal knife in the heart, she'd rather sit back, and write anthems about I'm-doingjust-fine thank-you and sail on to the next great experience. Her pain is more forgotten, more abstract but just as sharp and just as mo ving as Becker's musical outpours. Hunter is a sharp cookie in the studio as well. Each cut, with guitars, vocal harmonies, drums and the entire parade of typical alternativefolk sounds pours from the speakers like it was recorded with a million dollar budget. Every note, every voice is right in place and would fix on the radio just fine. The song "Satisfied" has this Dire Straits groove with an amazingguitarsoloandit'sobviousLisaHunter is as confident as a record producer as she is an artist. Only on "Fade Into Black" does Hunter let her emotions go and when she sings "tired of playing games," it almost breaks your heart. But, don't think her otherwise detachment is a badthing - it's not. With Audrey Becker it' s the innocent razor along the spinal column. With Lisa Hunter, it' s like watching a video of someone talking about a razor slicing into your soul. Both are cool foundations for wonderful and valuable and heartbreaking pop music. Both know what they are doing, both are important singer songwriters and both deserve to have you check them out. While both Lisa Hunter and Audrey Becker are going to be rich and famous, signed to big time record deals, record classic stuff and live happily ever after in the rock & roll history books, Detroit Street singer, Robert Bradley, and his backup band, Blackwater Surprise, already have a deal with RCA and a new selftitled CD out shortly. It blew me away. The eleven-track collection is so soulful, so damn filled with the power of the blues, the StaxVolt ghost of Otis Redding and all that is sacred, it's hard to believe this masterpiece was not a lost classic from the 1960s. Oh, it's not time warp music. It's alive and cool and sounds like 1996. But if Robert Bradley (oh you can toss in some Motown too, let's not forget that) is not the most amazing voice to spring from the Murder City in 30 years, I don' t know who the heil is. Blues and soul and funk like nobody on the planet . . . Joe Cocker, Wilson Pickett, Dr. John . . . these are all clues, but you need to hear for yourself . The View From Nowhere, AGENDA 220 S. Main, A2, ML 48104 or e-mail:ALANN ARBOR@AOL.COM. LOCALMUSIC

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