The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger – Midnight Sun

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There was a female singer I recall that took great pleasure not just in entertaining her audiences, but bolstering her spiritual self-esteem based on the feedback from her fans, who frequently used the word “healing.”  I scratched my head at that, weighing the possibilities of music’s influence on human synapses versus her self idolatry.  tgoastt

The first song of this CD, “Too Deep,” speaks to that at a different level.  I haven’t followed Sean Lennon’s career (yes, the younger son of the Beatle), but I did see his “band” as a warm-up act a few years ago.  It was passable and, in retrospect, probably a stepping stone on the path to Midnight Sun.  This song carries the weight of the world, not in a lyrical oppression or somber tones, but the pure density of its sound.  Let’s see:  electric guitar, synthesizer, bass, percussion, Hammond organ.  The number of instruments doesn’t crowd the aural space, but, supposing that this project lingered as a work in progress for years, it’s just over-baked, smoking the house.  But... then there’s this voice, high above the pollution, the sound of an angel calling the listener to rise above a million New York taxis... healing.  It works, after that point.

Such is the effect of Lennon’s key band mate, collaborator, and girlfriend, Atlanta’s own Charlotte Kemp Muhl.  It’s not that she’s on her way to stardom, but she has that special whimsy that complements Lennon’s almost to perfection, rescuing Lennon from the psychedelic din.

This is a difficult album for me to listen to in a setting.  At times, the myriad electronic squirks and fuzz tones annoy, at other times, they’re embellish.  Strong bass lines benefit many of the songs, and they show good taste in bringing in other instruments, like horns.  In other words, there are ample subtleties to appreciate, not that his occasional lead guitar and lap steel talents disappoint.

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Lyrically, we’ll just say it’s an obtuse work.  “Down the yellow brick road all the homeless scarecrows pimps and witches know red shoes won’t get you home.”  Pick any stanza of any song, really.  “Everywhere you go you’re in a microscope / You’re living in a fishbowl and your mind’s under control / so say a prayer for the internet billionaire / a solar flare will burn the hair of a man and polar bear.”  Did the lyrics influence the music?  Or the music the lyrics?  Maybe they went to Colorado for inspiration.

In any case, there are some fine songs here.  Just try them two to three at a time.  Next time, maybe they’ll consider a “just a little less is more” approach.

Recommended songs: “Moth of a Flame,” “Last Call,” “Don’t Look Back Orpheus”

3 of 5 STARS

 

 

 

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