Elana Arian,
How to Stand in the Rain
(Ironic Sneakers, 2007)

There's no rule that says an album must be stylistically unified. Simply because most CDs remain in one genre or another -- we speak of them as folk albums, or rock or jazz offerings -- well, that doesn't mean it has to be that way, does it?

Elana Arian would say that blending genres results in better music, a CD that might not hang together stylistically but instead demonstrates the varied talents of the artist. Since she studied orchestral conducting, violin, jazz guitar and songwriting at Yale, she is not unknowledegable and since she plays acoustic 6- and 12-string guitars, violin, viola, tenor banjo, mandolin, auto harp, glockenspiel and celeste on her CD, she's going to want to stretch out a little. The press release that accompanied this CD says "she seamlessly blends the discipline of classical, the freedom of jazz and the candor of folk music into her own unique style as a singer-songwriter."

I didn't find that statement quite accurate. Rather than seamlessly blending the styles, she leapfrogs from one to another. A couple of folkie ballads and, wham, here comes a trad jazz tune. A little of that and here comes a rocker, followed by a dip into post-modernism. I'm telling you, it's hard to keep up with this woman. Being thrown off balance by a CD is not a bad thing and I'm not saying this is a bad album. What I'm saying is it's not a consistent one and listeners who need consistency are going to be thrown off by it. Listeners who follow where she leads will have a good time.

Me? I found myself wishing she'd settle down somewhere, stay in one place long enough for me to really get into what she was doing. The question is, though, is that my problem as a listener or hers as an artist?

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Michael Scott Cain

1 September 2007

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