Miche Fambro,
Cafe Vignettes
(independent, 2007)

Cafe Vignettes is an assortment of spoken stories and songs from traveling musician and open-mic contributor Miche Fambro. His vignettes provide a glimpse into the life and struggles of a struggling musician, as well as a humorous glance at racial attitudes (including his own). Fambro offers amusing impressions of Montana's cultural and physical landscape, shares the effect of black solitude in the northwest and reveals the complex politics of folk music instrumentation.

These accounts have a common element: raw honesty. Fambro isn't the self-deprecating type so much as truly sharing what his life as a musician has been like. He is in the situation of not being an uber-successful musician, yet he's doing well enough to put out an album. That middle/grey area allows for a narrative perspective that isn't as easy to find as you might think.

The spoken stories alone could (should?) sell Cafe Vignettes; however, the songs contribute well enough. They are the weaker elements of the whole package, but Fambro's lyrics are almost as engaging as his stories. While Fambro has a nice/amicable singing voice, it really isn't all that distinctive, so the lyrics have to act as the selling point. (Not that his vocal work is bad by any means, but it doesn't command the attention that his spoken voice does.)

"Man of Straw" is the best of the bunch, both lyrically and musically. The guitar work shines, and the song's theme allows for greater interpretations. "Always a Good Boy" is fine satire mixed with social commentary, leaving one to ponder why naughty screw-ups get more recognition than reliable, nice folks do.

Typically, an album that has a mixture of songs and spoken stories will have the songs feel like the headlining elements with the stories as the segues/connecting elements. Miche Fambro's Cafe Vignettes has the opposite situation occur. The songs are fairly entertaining, but it's Fambro's spoken stories that steal the show. The entirety of the album is an engaging and honest look at the ongoing trials of a musician that persists at doing what he loves.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
C. Nathan Coyle

13 September 2008

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