So much confessional folk-pop is so bad that it’s one of my least favorite styles of music. That makes the occasional happy surprise all the nicer. Yes, Sharon Edry‘s debut CD is all about “me, me, me,” and yes, the lyrics are prosy, but it has lovely arrangements and lilting, catchy tunes that – much like the wrinkle-be-gone my wife keeps trying to smear on my face – can cover those unsightly flaws: in this case, cliched themes that in a weaker setting would be just too tiresome to bear.
Edry’s captivating vocals set the perfect tone of controlled passion. She complains a lot, but the way she wears her heart on her sleeve – and in her voice – has an appealing charm and sweetness. Confessional lyrics often lack poetry, and Edry’s are no exception; for every evocative metaphor (“Deep in my eyes sometimes the color brown/Will turn to black”) there are a couple of clumsy or watery ones (“I wear a smile like a bright white shirt that never fades to gray,” “am I drowning in a million drops of pain?”). But there aren’t a lot of metaphors to begin with, and anyway the music usually rises above this flaw.
“Happy Ever After” would sound perfect as the theme to a network teen drama (note to cynics: that’s not meant as an insult! quite the opposite). In the beautifully arranged “Blue Rain,” Edry’s delicate voice sweeps over the atmopheric accompanying tracks in a somber plaint of disappointment and depression. It’s one of the best examples of the great care and musicality that have gone into arranging and producing these songs. Edry, co-producer Carolann Solebello, and their musicians did a beautiful job creating sounds and moods throughout the CD. Who needs metaphors and word games when the very sounds of the voice and instruments make the emotional points so well?
Sometimes those aforementioned prosy lyrics jump out too starkly from the music, breaking its spell. “Uncertainty,” for example, suffers from lyrical obviousness or laziness, the tendency to tell instead of show. But “Everything” and “Change,” though also abstractions, have catchy choruses that demonstrate Edry’s talent for the hook and make them hard to resist.
“Stained Glass Window” is too treacly for me, and a few numbers, like “Never-Ending Skyline” and “Possibility,” are more recitatives than songs; they fail to hold this reviewer’s interest. But the second half of the CD is elevated by “More Than” which shows Edry at her subtlest and most powerful, and by “The Simple Song” in which she finally banishes the bastard who seems to have given her the incentive to write all these songs in the first place.
This is a simple song
To say that you were wrong
Too bad it took so long
Add it all up and you have a CD with many high points, more good songs than most CDs by much more famous artists, and a gorgeous sound. Its best tracks, like “Happy Ever After” and “Blue Rain,” are earning a place in my iTunes library. Let’s hope Sharon Edry finds another evil muse – or something equally inspiring – for her next project.