Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Record Review - Rebecca Katz

Before you get started on this, you have to know that the request was to review the record - and, I went ahead and did just that. Reviewed the whole thing - hahahahahaha.

BUT, Rebecca was looking for something that was short and I dont know how good I am with that (i'm a big fan of quantity time you know)...but, here's my 2 sentence offer on her record and, I believe it to be true.

Rich with flawed and real characters, Rebecca Katz's first EP 'Spendin' on Today,' invites us all into her living room to sit in that oversized brown leather chair with a cup of warm tea and watch her stories unfold before your ears.

Let yourself be drawn into her music like you would a warm fire on a snowy winter's day.

And, if you want more than continue on down.



So there I was.

Minding my own business - well, not really - I was working on the first radio show I'd done in about 18 years. Getting music ready, gathering information and, I received a friend request for the myspace page from a singer/songwriter named Rebecca Katz.

She put a quick note on the request about checking her music or that this was a great idea for a show.

And - well - I'm sentimental. She took an extra step, wrote some words so I went to her page thinking I was going to get the 'typical' singer/songwriter vocals and songs about chipmunks dancing on pizza which was to represent the scientists doing their work on global warming in Antarctica.

What's great about myspace is that you can try on a song like a jacket in a store and see if it suits you. And, if you like it, you can just keep the jacket on for a little while as you browse thru the rest of the store. Just to make sure you like it.

That’s how I felt with Rebecca's music on myspace.

I can tell you….she DOESN'T sound like other folk artists. And, to me - that's important because it's like Peanut Butter. Peanut Butter all tastes the same to me - unless it's this one brand. And, I'm not a Brand Name Dropper – yet - but, I've settled in on this one because it tastes great.

So, while I'm not saying that Rebecca Katz is that brand of peanut butter, I can say that she is unlike the rest of the peanut butters out there.

And, to be fair, someone doesn’t just join the ranks of my favorite peanut butter in 1 week.

Ok - enough parables and metaphors about peanut butter. Let's get down to the jam!....ommmm…..I meant to say music there.

Let's start with the last song of her record.

Home Again.
Acapella - is not my bag - most of the time. And, when this song first started I was transformed to the records - YES RECORDS - of my youth and the song Cotton fields Back Home - it may have been done by the New Christy Minstrels, but, it's not often that you get a song done acapella and, sadly, I kept anticipating music to come on to join Rebecca and it didn’t come. And, I wasn’t disappointed. I just wasn’t expecting it. Isn’t it funny how my pre-conceived notion of a song involves an instrument playing with the vocals?

I need to remind myself that our voices are an instrument too.

This song is a little gem and not what I expected to hear. I love hearing something I wasn’t expecting to hear.

Kinda like when I go home to my parents' house and I smell fudge brownies from the kitchen.

I'm home again and my life as an adult kinda just morphs back to being their son and they my mommy and daddy.

Kiss Me Good Night

So, I’m writing about this record and, am caught a little flat-footed on this song.

The first things that catch me with a song are the music and the tone and sound of Rebecca’s voice. And, I can’t always keep up with the words and the possible meanings behind the words.
Rebecca knows what these words mean. And, she may not share what they mean – and, as she says – ‘it’s an artist’s prerogative.’ - J

This song is interesting because her request of her man is to kiss her good night, but he doesn’t have to do anything else.

Sadly, when we love someone in a way that we put minimal expectations on them or none, chances are, there has been some activity where the other half – in this case for our song – “the guy” has been exhibiting a behavior of womanizing or plain non-commitment.

And, our poor singer is saying, “Ok. You don’t have to do anything for me except kiss me good night.”

And we know that he can’t do that.

And we also know that she needs more than that kiss good night – she’s just looking for that door to his heart to be open so she can come in and lean like he’s done with her heart.

To Donnie
Now - I think the normal person would not bring up another musician when commenting about their album, but, I'm not someone who can stick with formulas and rules.

I heard this song, and I IMMEDIATELY was brought to - in my mind - the singer songwriter Sabrina Dinan - from Ireland - and her song that's at http://www.blogger.com/www.fabchannel.com/sabrina_dinan - you need to check out Timebomb. These are 2 totally different singers with different voices, I just wanted you to know where I was brought upon hearing the opening of the song.

Ok, back to Donnie.

Funny hearing the song - that as soon as he removed his hat everyone noticed him. Hidden. Kind of like the hidden love RK wrote about in Kiss Me Goodnight.

I'm not sure who got the whole first verse last verse thing started - and I've heard it on a number of Vertical Horizon songs….but the good news here is that while Rebecca brings us back to the image of our boy Donnie at the end of the song, it's a little different, a little more breath in her voice a little more longing. How awesome to have a verse-reprise that's different….has emotion…..in this case….longing for Donnie to come home, and, it's done in a way to make me a part of the group who miss Donnie too.

If you see the one

Anytime I hear a song that starts with the vocals right away with the up or downstroke of the guitar - personally, I prefer the upstroke because it's different - where was I - Oy VAY! I'm A.D.D. on my own writing and am still in the same sentence!!!!! Ok - haahahaha - When a song starts with the vocals right away it makes me think of one of the "Lethal Weapon" movies - I think it was # 3 where Mel Gibson is running right at the start of the movie.

I like that - it's like BAP! - here I am. (I believe ‘BAP’ came from the ‘60s TV show – Batman.)

And, in music, I guess I look for a song to do that somewhere after the first two songs. But hey - that's just me. Rebecca made this song her first song on her record. And, why not? (Rhetorical question ladies and gentlemen). Why not jump out and say - HEY - Here I am?

Her vocals are great and overshadow the guitar playing for sure - especially at the beginning of the song but those first words ring thru my head - If you see the one.

Poor Rebecca's character has so many longings for love in her songs…..I'm thinking we need her to do a cover of Love Hearts - ommm - I was going to fix that word there before publishing, but I believe in Freudian Slips so, it stays….Rebecca needs to do a cover of Love Hurts by Nazareth somewhere in her repertoire.

And, this song is her first song on the record, so intriguingly it points you in the direction of a set of songs about love-gone-bad….

Maybe this is the Conclusion song that ties it together - and, I'm no music psychologist….who wants to be….this is music and Rebecca has crafted a good song for us to listen to with a character and imagery to set up the next songs on her record.

I love it when she says
If you see the one
That I could Love
Just give him a push
In the wrong direction

But let's be honest, Rebecca's character in her songs doesn’t want her friends to introduce her to who they think is Mr. Right. Rebecca's character wants her Mr. Wrong to see the light and become Mr Right. Kinda like Superheroes who are mild mannered by day and Super heroes by night.

The Real Thing
The first thing I thought of when I saw the real thing was the song by Kenny Loggins (which I LOVE!!!!!).

I'm a big fan of building into a song and, while I recognize that the norm is to kinda play 8 measures before jumping into the words, I think if the music here on ‘the real thing’ were a little slower in the beginning and then built into the riff that would be the main one for the verses, it would impact the song a little bit more - but hey - I'm nit picking here on a good song….so I'm going to, as my friends say, "shut the 'f' up and tell you more about it - hahahahaha.

One set of lyrics in this song that just grabs at my own heart are:

Laying Down Warm at the end of it all
With you Leaned into my heart

Obviously I'm going to think this verse refers to the "after some great sex," our character has that 'warm-fuzzy' feeling.

And, "With You Leaned Into My Heart."
What a strong statement of love.
The best feeling.
As if that love is an extension from her character's heart - the home of love for the singer/songwriter. Like an arm or leg to all of us…those are examples of extensions of ourselves, but that's one mighty powerful statement there.

I was actually brought back to my loves and remember the times when I truly felt like someone had leaned into my heart - and, to me, that's the best kind of love. The love you just know without speaking it.

A love that’s natural. A love that feels like home.

It's like sitting on a sofa, and you're both reading books, while your laps to your feet are under a blanket or quilt with a fire going and your feet are touching and every now and again you look up, your eyes missing eachother until that one time when they see eachother, you smile, you close your books, and you sit right next to eachother….safe in eachother's closeness.

Thank God you're the real thing.

A few times in here, you here a little unexpected 'clank' in the guitar playing and, whether done on purpose or not, immaterial because, the real thing is never perfect every day, every minute or every second. Listen to the songs Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart or I Saw Her Again Last Night by the Mama's And The Papas.

In Every Picture….there's a girl singing and there's a part in there where you hear her breath thinking she needed to go into the song right at that moment……..AND THENNNNNNN….then, all of a sudden, you hear her line "look how wrong you can be."

In I Saw Her…..there's John Phillips - I think - and he sings "I saw her uh…I saw her again last night and you know that I shouldn’t."

The ones that we love are not perfect, but the good ones are perfect for us.

And when we discuss soul-mates or whatever the flavor of the day word that soul-mates turns into, it's really that we're discussing that perfect love. That love that we can give to someone that is perfect for them and the love we receive in return that's perfect for us.

And, the good news…..love is a topic that can be sung about forever. Even if Twisted Sister sings "love is for suckers." The good news is that I've only been married to that song 2 times in my life. Twisted Sister sang at both of my weddings. They offer a two-fer package because divorce rates are so high, they just naturally expect you to split up and marry again. :) Ok - I'm funny - or maybe not with that one. This paragraph is just me adding humor here.

Ommmm….yeh ok…..Rebecca's Record.


The Story (the maid and the sailor)
What this song needs is a good cello or viola to help attack that bass line a little bit or even an acoustic Bass. Maybe we just need to import an Irishman or Irish Lass to join our girl Rebecca on this song to add a little - Irishness to it.

But aside from that, I kinda went into this song being a song in a musical or stage show. I don’t know why. Maybe the song title or the dut dut dut dut part of the guitar work.

Have you noticed that I have pre-conceived notions? Isn’t it great to have those preconceived notions call me out often!!!!! Good thing I can recognize it – haahhahaaa.

Ok, back to ‘the story’ - I picture 2 folks on stage and Rebecca sitting on the side telling a story with symbolism and imagery made real through the characters on the stage.

And the last line - But He Won't Be Coming Home. Is kind-of a recurring theme here in Rebecca's record.

The song makes me think of Brandy by Looking Glass or the relationships from the movie the perfect storm….or Hard Rain's Gonna Fall as sung by Edie Brickell (hold the new bohemians).

Closing Statement

I like repetition in songs - meaning - The ones I like, I'll listen to multiple times in a row, to hear the music, catch onto the words, catch the chord changes, the mood…..the direction…..etc…

I believe in quantity time not quality time. And, I believe that quality time is just a way for people who want to pretend that they don’t have much time for others justify that little time they spend with the ones they love. “But I gave you ‘quality time.’”

A first record by any good singer songwriter has a lot of soul and emotion and passion that the listeners can hear and feel - especially when they give a record good long listening to.

Rebecca has put her soul out there for you to hear, listen and be engaged.

She's opened her door for you to walk in, but she only wants you to walk in if you want to - so you need to take that step.

So, walk in
Make yourself at home
Hang up your coat
Grab some Hot Cocoa - the marshmallows are on the table if you want to add them
Sit by the fire
And Lean into her music like Donnie leaned into her heart

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