Deni Bonet, Last Girl on Earth
Deni Bonet has always been more than the in-demand session violinist many know her as. Her new CD shows her, with her clutch of co-writers, in excellent songwriting form.
The arrangements meld 1980s plastic with new-century thump. Local luminaries like Sara Lee and Richard Barone keep everything solidly grounded, but it's the songs that make the disc a keeper: catchy and often humorous, but with a low-churning serious undercurrent tugging on many of the lyrics and musical passages. When Bonet sings "I can't, I can't, I can't get anything done / 'cause I'm having too much fun" in hollowed-out tones, there's a clear feeling of dismay tickling the shiny surface sentiment.
Bonet's strings and accordion take turns with ska-ish horn arrangements, micro-hoedowns, Martha and the Muffins vocal harmonies, and - as her stage directions specify - "moody obligatory violin areas." The result is a tingly jacuzzi of festive adult pop. "I don't need drugs, I don't need help / I'll fuck it up all by myself / Deepak Chopra kiss my ass / I've got advice for you / I say... Fuck it."
Ain't that just darling?
Joan Jeanrenaud, Strange Toys
Sticking with string players, but leaving behind the world of pop music for a moment, I have to mention the new disc from former Kronos Quartet cellist Joan Jeanrenaud. Its fourteen original Jeanrenaud compositions, all centered around her cello, feature plenty of looping and effects, and in some pieces, artfully situated guest musicians. They are compellingly listenable.
There are elements of minimalism, with the repetition that looping encourages. The inventive producer, pc muñoz, contributes beats too. But lyricism dominates many of the pieces, though never of an overly sweet sort, and the pieces are never less than fascinating or at least ear-tickling.