Nine out of 10 Internet stars whose claim to fame is making it big on YouTube, or some other social media site, don’t usually hang around long enough for most people to remember them from one week to the next. Usually it’s because the person has done something freakishly memorable rather than display any real talent during their fleeting moment in the limelight. In Andy Warhol’s day it might have been possible for someone to have 15 minutes of fame; now people are willing to settle for notoriety as a substitute for fame. In this everything is for public consumption age, it doesn’t matter what we do, it’s whether we get noticed or not.
So the fact that someone gets a million, two million, or a hundred million hits on a video they put up on YouTube is no indicator of a person’s talent. To be honest, when I hear about things like that my instinctive reaction is to stay as far away as possible. I guess it’s a good thing I started hearing about Theresa Andersson well after she was a sensation with her self-produced videos recorded in her kitchen. While I’ve since seen them after the fact, and for what they were they are impressive, but the first music I heard from her was stuff she had recorded professionally through a streaming version of her live concert at Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans (which is now on DVD as Theresa Andersson: Live At Le Petit). Aside from a few special guests, including Allen Toussaint, it was a one-woman show, and she rocked the house.
This was no flash in the pan sensation. This was someone with talent, creativity, skill and imagination. She had great presence on stage, a great singing voice, and an obvious talent for musical instruments. While it was slightly weird seeing a blue-eyed blond Swedish woman standing up on stage belting out African American gospel tunes and originals which had more to do with New Orleans than Stockholm, her obvious love and enthusiasm for the material helped to bridge that gap. Yet where could she go from there? There’s only so many times she could do the same thing over again without it becoming tired. So I was curious as to what she would have to offer on her newest disc from Basin Street Records, Street Parade, that will be released April 24, 2012.
Anyone who was expecting something along the lines of the infectious pop music of her YouTube hit “Na Na Na” is going to be surprised. Maturity, motherhood, and growth as a musician have all had an impact on not only her sound but her lyrical content. There’s a level of introspection permeating this disc not present on anything I’ve heard from her previously. Even “Sleepsong For Saoirse,” obviously a lullaby for her new daughter, while a dreamy and somewhat charming piece of music, hints at the lengths a mother will go to in an attempt to get her child to sleep. “Rainbow moon beams and honey bees dreams are waiting for you/But they can’t play until you sleep” is only one of the inducements offered to get the child to go to sleep.
However, it’s on songs like the title track, “Street Parade,” where we really see the differences from what she’s done in the past to now. New Orleans is, of course, famous for its parades, from the elaborate one at Mardi Gras, the ones that seem to be spontaneous celebrations at the joy of being alive to those escorting people who have died to their next destination.