A Review of the CD
"Five Stories"
by Kris Delmhorst

"Five Stories"
by Kris Delmhorst

Copyright 2001
Big Bean Music
P.O. Box 440283
Somerville, MA 02144

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 9/01
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Where in the world did Kris Delmhorst come from? Brooklyn, you say. Well, Spike Lee is missing out if he fails to biopic this artist from his old neighborhood. If nothing else, he'd be guaranteed a great soundtrack.

In just her second release, Delmhorst delivers an extremely stylized set of songs. She crisscrosses the spectrum, going from emphathetic to sorrowful to bluegrassy to defiant to smoldering. On a few cuts, her unforced vocal and lyrical eroticism is enough to start Jesse Helms calling for a congressional investigation.

She opens with "Cluck Old Hen." Drum-driven and backed by electric guitar and melodica, her sensual delivery immediately commands attention with a metaphor of an ill-tempered hen's behaviour and resulting life. Easily applicable to human beings, she sings:

"...cluck old hen, cluck and squall, ain't laid nothing since way last fall..."
"Damn Love Song" follows, depicting the fear of fully committing to a relationship. Near the close, Delmhorst sings:
"...how can I lie beside you night after night and pick at the lock of your heart?
when I never once opened my own
cause the last time it got free, it just cut and run like a stray dog out in the street
and it took about all I had just to make it come home..."
Singing of the still stinging effect of a relationship four years past in "Broken White Line," she opens with:
"It's been four years since the day the news fell from the sky
you took 'until we meet again,' turned it to 'goodbye'
and I hope that you won't rest in peace
'cause that would bore you right to tears
you always made the richest feast of the dangers and the fears..."
She finishes:
"...it's been four years now and I find I been living all this time
built myself a little world of rhythm and rhyme
but sometimes I take your picture and I turn it to the wall
'cause you are still a cliff and I still know how to fall...

...it was you and me and love made three."

A little pedal steel guitar gives this a country-like sound. Make that a country-like sound attached to lovely and literate lyrics.

Feeling hapless and hopeless and unsure of the right thing to do or say encompass "Words Fail You." Delmhorst concludes with:

"...and I know words fail you, I know words fail you, I know words fail you
and I know sometimes I do too."
In the motif of the emperor has no clothes, "Yellow Brick Road," probes and questions both our need for wizards and the enormous burden that puts on the poor magicians:
"hey you behind the curtain tell me what it is you see
from where you sit does it appear that everyone is on their knees?
their eyes are wide and hopeful and the line grows at the door
do you sit up there and wonder how you'll ever give them more?
"Garden Rose" and "Gave It Away" present the quest for freedom and the fear of such, respectively.

"Lullaby 101" is a wonderful closer with Delmhorst's last word in this song appropriately being "goodnight." Thematically connected to both "Garden Rose" and "Gave It Away," she sings of the need to not live your life solely to fulfill society's or other's expectations:

"...sleep you little alibi
with your reasons in a row
you have turned in circles all your life
so your shadow wouldn't show..."
The literate crowd will love this CD, as will those who desire to be emotionally moved by music. You've hit the jackpot if you fit both these categories for this is one of the top ten releases for 2001.

Track List:

All songs written by Kris Delmhorst.

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