Saturday, September 12, 2009

Variety is the Spice of Life

RJ Lannan Review

Variety is the Spice of Life

I can recall reviewing Kori Linae Carothers previous album The Road Less Traveled and feeling like this artist is really going somewhere. Her newest work Trillium proves she has just about arrived. Utilizing her well-developed compositional skills and employing the talents of producer Will Ackerman and the Imaginary Roads Studio Band, Kori along with her piano offers an exceptional album of contemporary music. Her album is not particularly themed around nature as the title suggests, but is a collection of impressions and synopses of life experiences set to music.

Without Kori's music, I could not imagine a translucent expanse made out of sparkling crystals. Crystal Fields is a beautiful beginning to the album. Scintillating points of light are clearly projected throughout the tune, which features the talents of Eugene Friesen on cello and Jeff Oster on flugel horn accompanying Kori's memorable score. Beautiful and mesmerizing as crystals can be, we must remember that they can also distort things on occasion, so close examination is a must. After hearing this first tune, I was confident that I would like the rest of what was to come, and I was not disappointed.

I really enjoyed the synthesized tune Blue Ice. There is magic in the blue ice and I for one do not want to know the scientific reasons as to why the ice is blue. I just want to believe that in every snowflake that falls and is compressed into a massive layer of ice, a little bit of blue sky is hidden inside waiting for me to watch it melt in some other lifetime. Kori infuses enchantment into the song with the help of Tom ShinnessL on bass, Jeff Silverman on drums and programming and Corin Nielsen on chimes.

Nantucket starts out almost like a solemn hymn, but then things change. Life gets brighter, sunnier and the whole scene is propelled by Atlantic breezes with a tang of salt in the air. It’s becomes a song of optimism and joy. To me it sounded like something out of the Dave Grusin/Golden Pond songbook. That's a good thing. T Bone Wolk adds his talents on bass and accordion on this one.

There is something blatantly sad about the tune Midnight. Oster's flugel sings a bittersweet opening layered with sound. Kori's pianissimo reply is somber, yet melodic. It is a song to that magic hour when geniuses create, artists paint and musicians compose. It is the song of the night owl, the free spirit and mad scientists.

Carpe Diem with vocals by Aeone (the resplendent voice on the Mists of Avalon soundtrack) is my album favorite. It has Celtic elements with a haunting melody and nerve tingling drive. Robert B. parker once wrote that you should wake up every morning like your hair is on fire and I for one support his philosophy. It is sometimes annoying to others, but that’s just part of it, isn’t it?

Kori gets as close to smooth jazz as she might dare with the tune 3 Degrees. It is not a song of temperature, but perhaps one of direction. It is a little off center, but that is what makes it interesting. It is tune of tangents and ideas that come full circle.

Trillium is kind of like aromatherapy for the ears. You put it on and it seeps into the pores of your spirit, refreshing you, making you just a little more content. The key word for this album is diversity. Kori tackles everything from contemporary to Celtic to Native American and does it with panache. Carothers has a winner with this album and I highly recommend it.

Rating: Very Good +

- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 9/12/2009
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