Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
The Man in a Jupiter Hat
Genres: Folk, Jazz, Pop, Rock
After the Polygram/Universal merger essentially eliminated labels like Lee Feldman's recording home, Mercury, the musician was on his own again, and he decided to independently release the 2000 follow-up to his splendid de... more »
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After the Polygram/Universal merger essentially eliminated labels like Lee Feldman's recording home, Mercury, the musician was on his own again, and he decided to independently release the 2000 follow-up to his splendid debut. On this second full-length recording, The Man in a Jupiter Hat, Feldman continues with his established method of telling romantic, often sad urban tales about people immersed in moments of strange emotional connection and irrational, yet undeniable fear. The name that always comes up when describing Feldman's deceptively tragic and reductive songwriting is, of course, Randy Newman. It is abundantly clear that Newman's funny, conversational, yet emotionally flammable lyrical tone had an influence on Feldman, but the younger artist manages to separate his music with a dry vocal delivery and direct infusions of his own truth and experience. Besides some denser arrangements, The Man in a Jupiter Hat doesn't stray to far from the formula that made Feldman's debut such an artistic (if not commercial) success. Sparse, musical, and intelligently sincere, this 2000 release is a well-crafted songwriting gem. -- All Music Guide
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Clever, sharp songwriting with excellent arrangements ...
Paul Hickey | Reston, VA | 08/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I first heard Lee Feldman's "Man In A Jupiter Hat" reviewed on National Public Radio, and was immediately intrigued. After not being able to find it at my local Conspiracy record stores, I settled for picking up his debut, "Living It All Wrong," and was impressed by the easy blend of light jazz and contemporary pop and rock that marked the best songs on that album.However, "Man In A Jupiter Hat" is even better than LIAW. For starters, Feldman's songwriting seems more assured now. Uptempo tunes such as "Eastern Europe," "Underground," and "Monkeys" cover a lot of lyrical ground, and the title track is a beautifully detailed, miniature description of an aging American seeing his youth reflected in "the Saturday children" around him. "Drunken Melodies," "Frank's Tune," and "Airplane" are other highlights that show how Feldman has grown increasingly comfortable in finding the right words to carry the mood of each piece. His tone ranges from that of regret over the breakup of a relationship ("Frank's Tune"), to the whimsical amusement of seeing the world fly by him ("Airplane"). At times he sounds almost like a cross between Daniel Johnston and Randy Newman, but with a style that is all his own.As a bonus, the music is more multilayered and substantial here than on his earlier release. "Living It All Wrong" had some wonderful moments, but "Man In A Jupiter Hat" offers a greater variety of interesting acoustical textures that keep changing from one piece to the next (and sometimes even within a song). Once again, Feldman makes good use of horns and strings on this album, and the additional instrumentation is especially effective on a couple of the slower numbers like the vaguely Celtic "Reluctant Cicada" and the softly stirring "Williamsburg Bridge." His own piano playing is as clear and crisp as ever, and even Feldman's singing comes across as stronger than it did before on LIAW.There are a few weaknesses worth noting, however. Unfortunately, Feldman still lacks the vocal polish to get around the occasionally awkward turn of phrase. His voice is pretty much limited to what he can do as a tenor, and it is not particularly expressive. Also, he doesn't yet quite have the knack of composing many different and distinctive pop melody hooks, so some of his songs tend to fade into each other if you aren't paying attention to them.Overall, though, Lee Feldman has produced a finely tuned and graceful record with "Man In A Jupiter Hat." Individually, most of these tracks succeed on their own terms. Listen closely and you can hear a very talented musician developing at a rapid pace. This album represents real progress for an entertainer in a cultural environment that often appears to reward commercial success over artistic creativity. "Man In A Jupiter Hat" may not knock you out, but you will be pleasantly satisfied."