Candy K. from APPLE VALLEY, MN Reviewed on 8/6/2010...
Some say this is an over-produced concept album. But the songs are heartfelt and they rock! Many of these songs will get stuck in your head and they will float into your subconscious as you go about your life. This CD is one of my faves.
Watch this one stick around
Tim Brain | WA United States | 04/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We find Poe on her second album brazen and boundlessly inspired, flexing her creative range with more quality ideas than can possibly be crammed into seventeen songs and a half-dozen genres.I read an interview on how this amazing disc came about. Finding herself at a loose end creatively after her first album, Poe describes an unsettling dream where her late father mysteriously urges her to "find his voice". Some time later she unearthed a forgotten box of family tapes dating from early childhood, featuring a revelatory array of personal voice recordings by none other than her often remote and complex Dad. Confronting the material wasn't easy at first. Then "suddenly I had 700 songs I needed to write, all of them at my fingertips".Talk of a concept album alarmed her backers, who suggested she "capitalize on her fan base" instead. Undaunted, Poe withdrew to a private studio and cozied up with her ProTools digital audio workstation, throwing 12-16 hours a day into the quintessential labor of love. Excluding all but an inner circle of accomplices, emerging two years and fifteen filled hard drives later with this incandescent work. And these songs!! Opulent and gripping, cohesive yet intricate, gloriously melodic, expansive, diverse. Up volume and sit back. Wade that first chilling intro into the heady rush of "Haunted" and I guarantee your pulse and breathing will have noticeably increased. Yes, the headlining "Hey Pretty" is a stunner, but I soon found it more of a bonus track alongside even more precocious siblings, "Control", "Terrible Thought", "Walk The Walk", "Wild", "5½ Minute Hallway"...on down the track list.. Each a consummate short story of it's own, with barely a mediocre moment anywhere.Songs intensely layered and multifaceted, yet always the sense of Poe in absolute command of her vision. Hard-as-nails guitar riffs blending to irresistible psychedeliscapes, shimmering codas, aching harmonies so fleeting I want to start throwing things. Startling detail, ravishing orchestration, that unbearably expressive voice warm and fragile and savage like the most ardent lover. There is a superb muscularity in Poe's music and especially her singing, a fusion of recklessness and control that sends shivers, puts a twist in your tummy and keeps you coming back for more. Why didn't we need lyrics with the documentation? Because every word is perfectly distinct. And if you miss one you will need to start again.To heighten the impact, Poe interweaves her father's disembodied voice with other soul-stirring memorabilia throughout, a mosaic of enthralling vignettes around his pervasive ghost. Unraveling with us a child's love, terror and loss, and things left unsaid, the captivating story never self-indulgent, accommodates us all. Elsewhere flash-forward; the enduring woman, compassionate but uncompromising, aware yet still vulnerable, challenging, unapologetically sexual.I have a feeling Poe's fan base is doing just fine. Against the best advice, she has pulled off an epic, timeless classic that stamps her unmistakable authority as an artist of great communicative power. She's also really, really good."
It Helps to be a Poe Fan
Rodney Meek | Austin, TX | 11/17/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had the opportunity to see Poe (formerly known as Ann Danielewski) ...this past November 12. Something of an odd venue, except that this was a joint outing in accompaniment with her brother, the author Mark Danielewski, whose "House of Leaves" was recently published to some critical acclaim. She was to sing a number of songs from her new CD, "Haunted", but unfortunately I could only stick around for a couple of them.I do like this album, but I wonder if it is really something that would appeal to the casual music fan. This isn't something that you can just chunk into your CD player and let rip. It's a very complex, layered, intense work, and deeply personal as well. In its broadest outlines, it's an attempt by Poe to come to grips with her late father, who died in 1993, two years before her debut release with her "Hello" album. (I may be a little off with this chronology.) That particular outing featured a lyric that said "Fathers are black holes that suck up the light"; that might give you a hint of her family dynamic.Recently, while going through her father's stored belongings, she came across several cassette recordings of conversations/monologues that he had recorded years ago, and listening to this spectral voice from beyond the grave inspired "Haunted". Poe has incorporated numerous selections from these tapes into the new songs, weaving them in as commentaries, prologues, segues. In a sense, she is reaching out to her father one last time and trying to achieve...an understanding? A reconciliation? A truce?At the same time, "Haunted" is meant to be a kind of reflection of "House of Leaves" (her song "5 1/2 Minute Hallway" is directly inspired by a passage in her brother's work). The liner notes will point the reader to numerous references in the novel.Indeed, it is critical to read these notes. The recordings of her father don't always come through so clearly, so you might not understand what he is saying. Additionally, Poe has intertwined other speaking roles into the mix, so you need to read all of the lyrics to fully comprehend all of the players, as it were.This is a challenging album. If you're looking for something that is minimalist, you won't find it here. "Haunted" is very much a studio work and a producer's dream, an intricate tapestry of sound. (The live performance was done as "karaoke, Poe-style" as she put it, with the assistance of her DJ, Peyote Cody.)There's a lot to commend this album. (I particularly like the song "Control".) It is astonishingly brave, and if you allow yourself to let down your guard, you might be deeply moved. There's a lot of anger, a lot of pain. But it moves in the end to acceptance, a kind of healing, when the voice of a young Poe tells her father..."It's okay, you can go now."Some may find this to be too intimate, and on some level I wonder if the most intimate emotional turmoils of Poe are a fitting topic for only her second album. This seems a bit churlish on my part, but it is true that all of these songs work in concert to her one theme for "Haunted", and so there's far less of the carefree spirit and reckless experimentation that was so evident in "Hello". Approach with caution, and set aside one long evening to allow this work to sink in.And call your father."
4 Stars For Terrific Song-smithery + 1 For Brilliance
Michael D. Abernethy | Chapel Hill, NC United States | 12/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am not a rabid fan of Poe... but this album, HAUNTED, is out to make me one! Poe's previous effort, HELLO, was a very pleasant affair indeed: hip-hop rhythms, sampling, her velvety vocals, that GREAT song that launched her career (read: "Angry Johnny"), but it dragged in places and could become tedious at times despite the promise within those first songs. Poe returns with anything but what could be called a sophomore-slump in HAUNTED, a brilliant concept piece about the death of her father, her brother Mark Z. Danielowski's novel, HOUSE OF LEAVES, and her own subconcious. The songs themselves, as the title of this review states, are worth an excellent rating. So rarely are tracks as diverse as the thumping, grooving, and thouroughly melodic "Haunted," and the latin-flavored ballad "Spanish Doll" found on the same album by an individual artist. And that is without mentioning the trippy, hyper "Not A Virgin," the smooth sinistry of "Hey Pretty," the luscious electronica feast of "Wild," and the pounding and relentless power of "Control." But as wonderful as these songs are individually, when heard in succession of one-another, the listener is confronted head-on by Poe's huge-with-a-capital-H-vision, without feeling overwhelmed or bombarded. This feat, not even entirely conquered by rock genius' Radiohead on their recent KID A, displays just the depth of artistry that Poe embodies. It takes a delicate hand and an open mind to create an album so obviously dear to one's heart as this, and yet not to create a forced message and risk losing an audience's imagination. A large part of what helps her production and songs work hand-in-hand is the versatility of Poe's voice. Many artists have lovely and wonderful voices, but never quite know what to do with them. Throughout HAUNTED, Poe displays an intimate knowledge of her own voice and uses it to its fullest effect. It comes across as thick and luscious "Spanish Doll," growling and intense in "Control," flowing and composed in the title track, diva-esque in "Wild," and breathy, teariness on the closing track, "If You Were Here." What's more, none of these variations sound like Poe is posturing. Poe always sounds completely sincere and confident in her delivery, and that is what gives Poe the incredible power of interpretation of emotion that is found on HAUNTED. Without this ability to adapt to musical climate, Poe's vision would have drowned in its own ambition... but her virtuoso voice combines with wonderful songcraft and beautiful, stunning production making this album a truly unique joy to behold... you will hear nothing else quite like HAUNTED. In HAUNTED, Poe has found the perfect balance of production (slick, glossy, but rough on the edges) and vision (so clear, but so listenable and eclectic) and created an avante-pop masterpiece for the world to experience in awe."
The Concept Album Lives!
zukkar | Exeter, PA USA | 05/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I stumbled upon Haunted and Poe by accident. I had rented Blair Witch 2 - Book of Shadows despite all the negative reviews. The movie was, IMHO, OK - not as bad as the reviewers claim, but not nearly as compelling or original as the first. But it was the song that played as the ending credits began rolling that really captivated me. I instantly loved the melody, the lyrics, and the vocals. I HAD to find out what that song was and who was singing it. So I scanned the credits and discovered the song was entitled Haunted (I figured as much from the chorus), and the artist was Poe - Never heard of them (I thought Poe was a group). Understand, I'm a 43 year old classic rocker, so I only listen to my local classic rock radio station.After a bit of research I discovered that Poe was in fact a young lady named Anne Danielewski and Haunted was the title track from an actual concept album - something I thought had long been extinct. I was especially intrigued by the facts surrounding the concept. I HAD to hear more!As a rule I never buy a new, unknown CD unless it contains at least 3 songs I really like. I already knew I LOVED Haunted so that was one down. The online music retailers only offer extremely poor quality snippets of songs - not nearly enough to form an opinion. So, using a controversial file sharing program (rhymes with shmapster) I randomly selected 2 more songs to audition - Control and Walk The Walk. I was dumbfounded! I RARELY like ONE song the first time I hear it, but THREE, from the same unknown (to me) artist and album was unprecedented. I concluded that I didn't WANT this album - I NEEDED IT!Poe opens her mind and allows the listener a first hand glimpse inside; something only Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) had ever accomplished as far as I'm concerned. The diversity in musical styling and the personal, profoundly articulate lyrics emanating from a voice with immense range, clarity, and passion make for an unparalleled listening experience. I particularly noticed how 'The Beatles' has influenced this incredibly talented artist as evidenced by the songs 5&1/2 Minute Hallway, Lemon Meringue, and Amazed. Admittedly, a few of the songs had to grow on me but it only took 2-3 listens to do so. My ONLY gripe, albeit petty, is the sampled vocal effects on Wild are a bit overdone - just MY opinion.All in all this album is nothing short of brilliant and trust me when I say I'm EXTREMELY selective when it comes to music. And to think I owe it all to a second rate movie sequel that I almost didn't see."