Tuesday , October 23 2018
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Little Black Dress – Anny Celsi

Man, there’s a lot of great music out there – it drives me insane when people say “they just don’t make ’em like they used to.” In fact they do make ’em like they used to: right now artists are working successfully in virtually all styles and substyles and combinations of styles known to man since the dawn of recording.

Obviously there is better and worse music being made, and often the original impulse in a given genre is the freshest expression of that impulse, but that isn’t close to being universally true and there is more fine music being made RIGHT NOW than in any time in history. Of course there is a lot of crap, too, but what else is new, and that’s what Blogcritics is for: helping you to sort the schwingin’ from the flaccid, the kernel from the husk, the dew from the doo.

Last month I reviewed an outstanding tribute to Lee Hazlewood, the song auteur who has used pop styles as a palette from which to paint sophisticated, noirish vignettes of relationships waxing and waning with a startling specificity.

Anny Celsi has proved the Hazlewood style of pop mining in the service of a pulp fiction song cycle is alive and thriving. I popped on her new Little Black Dress and Other Stories disc last night as I was recovering from strain of the Easter mini-vacation because the cover caught my eye: a striking Hopperesque, low-horizon illustration of a femme fatale in a little black dress perched on the shoulder of an open highway, emblematic Route 66 convertible slowing down to take a look.

The CD lives up to the cover: Chelsea’s songwriting is amazingly in command of various pop-rock idioms as she tells her tale:

    She was at the end of the bar, giving me her profile as she threw down her third martini. She had a mouth like an inkstain and a laugh like a fire engine, loud enough to drown out the band. I wondered what she was celebrating. A girl like that, a laugh that loud – either she’d just buried her husband or she’d just gotten off shift at the Macy’s cosmetics counter. Either way was okay with me — I could use a good laugh tonight. I motioned to the bartender for another, then nodded toward the end of the bar, where Fire Engine was busy spilling her purse and rethinking her lipstick. “Buyin’ one for the party doll, eh?” He shrugged as he reached for the gin. “It’s your dime, buddy.” Yeah. Everybody’s a critic….

The CD package contains cool little story snippets such as this to set the mood for each song.

As with many songwriters, Celsi’s (pronounced “Chelsea”) voice is not great, but is a pleasant combo of Sheryl Crow and Aimee Mann – I’d love to hear a troupe of allstars tackle this project, but in the meantime Celsi’s original is more than good enough.

Much to my annoyance, LIttle Black Dress is not yet available through Amazon, but is through her own evocative site, which also has her sharp, clever lyrics, including the first song on the album, which sets the story up from the perspective of the fool on the cover driving the sports car:

    ‘TWAS HER HUNGER BROUGHT ME DOWN

    No it ain’t the fall that kills you, it’s your meeting with the ground
    Twas her beauty that bewitched me
    Twas her hunger brought me down
    I had money and position, silver watch to keep my time
    Trusting wife and pretty children. When I met her I was fine
    Twas her engine that propelled me and soon we were city bound
    Twas her beauty that derailed me
    Twas her hunger brought me down
    I took twenty thousand dollars, where it went I can’t explain
    I’d be richer had I thrown it from the window of the train
    Beauty needs so much attention, hunger does not compromise
    Soon the city was our prison, I fell further in her eyes
    No it ain’t the fall that kills you, it’s your meeting with the ground
    Twas her beauty that befell me
    Twas her hunger brought me down

Celsi and band play the Cinema Bar in Culver City this Thursday, April 24. Wear something nice.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014.Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted.Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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