Wednesday, January 21, 2009
myspace :: buy from zunior
In today’s digital world, you can’t help but wonder why Andre Ethier (and really that basically applies to the entire roster on Blue Fog) seems to prefer releasing his records without fanfare or even updating his web site. Maybe it’s because he prefers his other vocation - he’s gone from the rough and jagged sounds of The Deadly Snakes to the quiet life of a painter and the musical shift that accompanied his change is staggering – but his work as a solo artist, while fragmented (in a very good way), is engaging as any work coming out of Canada these days... if only he’d let people in on the secret.
From the opening moments of Born of Blue Fog, you can’t help but notice that Ethier seems more precise, more focused with this collection of songs. The ominous strings that pair perfectly with the picked guitar on The Only Wine I Crave set the tone from what comes next, but it’s Easiest Game where you see Ethier push forward from the Dylan-esque folk he’s so often described by to a much more sophisticated delivery, one that almost masks the power of his words, offering up multiple layers to the listen. With a patient arrangement focused on saxophone and keys, he’s able to transform a cliche, like “love is the easiest game to play” into sentiment that moves you. The track bob and weaves, builds and retreats showing Ethier deft touch and his growth as a composer.
As usual, Ethier refuses to stay in the pocket. He experiments with more traditional blues (fans of Kelly Stoltz will embrace Infant King) and exudes confidence with the slinky soul of Heaven Above You, a song with a chorus that will have you swaying and reaching for the volume knob. He even spikes the pace with the Lou Reed inspired “Cop Killer” and the horns and guitar of a track that could have been grabbed from a lost Warhol archive add some grit to the recording and lets Ethier show that he’s as charismatic as any story teller we have out there today.
I realize that Born of Blue Fog is a record that will probably float by unnoticed to anyone unfamiliar with Ethier’s resume, which is a shame as the release cements Ethier’s transition into a more folksy, acoustic driven songwriter and leaves his past behind. It’s also a record that showcases how truly gifted this unassuming, diverse song writer really is.