The beauty of Nicholas Urie’s debut CD lies in the details. Excerpts from an Online Dating Service is a marvelous experiment, bolstered by the unique anticipation found in the online dating scene. Urie, just 23 years of age, assembles a large ensemble to tackle the movement of the internet personal advertisement, turning the cultural landscape of internet encounters into profound, evocative poetry.
Leonard Cohen once said that “poetry is just the evidence of your life.” The evidence of life found in online personal ads is compelling, to say the least, and Urie has really stumbled upon a goldmine of lyrical content.
“Those people who take their time writing the ad really manage to say something special about who they are and how they see life,” Urie says.”What initially piqued my interest was the amazing level of vulnerability people are willing to show on the internet.”
With the occasional exception of some word repetition, all of the lyrics found on Excerpts from an Online Dating Service have been taken from internet dating sites. “Each one is an artifact that highlights some aspect of this amazingly specific and highly stylized internet subculture,” Urie says in the liner notes.
Excerpts doesn’t rest on its laurels as a gimmick record. Urie’s compositions give the anonymous words life without mockery or irony, brilliantly weaving legitimate emotion through the language and deepening the all-too-human observations these words reveal.
Anchored by Joe Martin’s bass, Frank Carlberg’s piano, and Michael Calabrese’s drums, Urie’s large ensemble ably tackles the compositions with care.
Vocalist Christine Correa’s sincerity airs out the material, drawing on the raw integrity of the internet personal ads without an ounce of derision or pretention. She is called upon to sing some truly peculiar lyrics and does so freely and beautifully.
“I’m thirty, 6’3, blond hair, blue eyes, in a band – I’m a singer,” she sings on “About Me.” The song’s mischievous gait illuminates the rather terse “lyrics” and Correa’s vocals offer new meaning, exposing a sense of helplessness that may or may not have been intended by the original author.