Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
The former Wall of Voodoo singer spins strange and surreal tales that keep you up at night. This album challenges more than a few of the assumptions that have been made about Stan Ridgway as a songwriter. Stan himself cal... more »
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The former Wall of Voodoo singer spins strange and surreal tales that keep you up at night. This album challenges more than a few of the assumptions that have been made about Stan Ridgway as a songwriter. Stan himself calls it "a song cycle for dreamers and schemers" and went on to say, "The songs took shape during the summer of '95, at a time when I was coming to grips with a lot of conflicting thoughts and feelings...And at the risk of sounding like some wounded folkie, this is probably the most personal record I've made so far."
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Experimental and eclectic Ridgway...
ewomack | MN USA | 09/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Black Diamond" stands as one of Stan Ridgway's most adventurous albums. It presents a strange blend of electronic and acoustic music that, at first listen, may sound overly disparate and hacked together. But repeated listenings smooth out the transitions and reveal a deeper structure. The album actually explores very similar emotional themes within very different contexts. So yes, it's eclectic, somewhat intentionally non-commercial, and quite experimental as a whole. Consequently, it may not appeal to everyone.
The album opens with a bang and one of Ridgway's best songs, "Big Dumb Town". It paints a portrait of the worst sort of opportunist: someone who makes a profit off of selling firehoses to a city on fire. It wasn't a hit, but it sounds like a hit created by an ideal world (the grunge movement likely pushed it off the airways in the mid-late 90s). "Gone the Distance" abruptly changes the mood from electric to sparse acoustic. When Ridgway hits the high notes, his voice takes on a mellow Neil Young-ish timbre. The somewhat cryptic lyrics evoke loneliness, the void, and things that remain out of reach. Next arrives another in a series of abupt transitions and yet another of Ridgway's best songs, "Knife and Fork". An extremely addictive piano riff runs through this song about a nightmarish personal obsession in the second-person. "Down the Coast Highway" returns to acoustic land. A mood of nonchalance pervades the song. Even the semi-surprise ending "I blew him away" remains emotionally distant. Then the song fades out as if nothing really significant happened. The narrator seems unmoved. Indifference? Distance? A false sense of reality? The song raises more questions than it answers. "Luther Played Guitar" tips its country hat to (the now late) Johnny Cash and his late guitarist, Luther Perkins. "Stranded" dramatically explores helplessness and abandonment. Most people can probably identify with its chorus "You're Worn and Used" and with the allusion to the Myth of Sisyphus. We keep going despite the worst of circumstances.
The rest of the album takes some more surprising turns. "Wild Bill Donovan" returns to the country-ish mood of "Luther Played Guitar"; "Man of Stone" relies heavily on horn riffs for its groove that supports the detective-story lyrics; "Pink Parakeet" sounds like a sparse dance number - Ridgway's voice lurks in the background, bathed in reverb, while a rhythym track pounds away - it revisits "Knife and Fork's" obsessive themes; "Underneath the Big Green Tree" asks the question we all ask, namely, "where do I belong?" and revisits abandonment; Ridgway also takes on a Dylan cover: 1967's "As I Went Out One Morning" - it fits somewhat strangely and astonishingly within the mix; and then the tongue-in-cheek drunken almost-closer "Crystal Palace" - it further explores the illusions and barriers we set up between one another, and removes another layer of reality. Then, for those who don't turn off the CD, the 13th (but unlisted and uncounted) song begins. Its chorus contains the line "I Guess I'll just shutup and move along". Ridgway has stated that "Black Diamond" is his most "personal" album. Does the 13th song say "Ok, I'm done with that, I've made my statement, now let's move on to the next album"? Maybe. Maybe not.
Audiophiles may not appreciate this album. The production can get a little muddled in places (this is more obvious in headphones). But the sound never falls completely flat. In the end, the great songs usually rise above the less than ideal production. Regardless, 1995's "Black Diamond" holds lots of food for thought and great and unappreciated songs. It probably doesn't show Ridgway at his absolute pinnacle best. But it does show a unique side of one of America's least known and most versatile songwriters."