Unfinished Song

Philly area Singer Songwriter Denise Moser was one of the first Sirens on this blog and I’m very happy to share the news that she’s released a new CD, Here Right Now.

The excellent, detailed review written by John Apice and published in No Depression on January 27th covers just about every aspect of Here Right Now, and he calls Unfinished Song the bravest song on the CD. I agree with him completely, and although guitarist Marc Moss did a wonderful job producing this gorgeous, honest collection of songs, Unfinished Song, an a cappella piece that gave me chills when I first heard it, is my favorite.

 

It’s lionhearted.

 

And it’s not just the fact that Denise Moser sings this song alone and unaccompanied that makes Unfinished Song so courageous, it’s the content, and the simple, profound resolution in her voice. If I was willing to bare my soul, like Denise does, this part of the post would be a lot longer. Instead, I’ll just say that I love this song so much, it hurts.

Blank paper is an old friend

My life’s unfinished song

Pretty lines and melodies

No rhyme to hang it on

I walk down roads look straight ahead

And then I change my mind 

I lose the path I double back

Regrets can be unkind

Bright stabs of inspiration

Sometimes I do my best

I put a good face on it

But this heart needs a rest

My mind is all a clutter

In places you can’t see

I never was a mother

That part of me bleeds

Denise released Here Right Now at the end of 2012, and despite the fact that I’m late with this post, she was generous enough to share her thoughts about Unfinished Song.

“It’s interesting to me that Unfinished Song resonates with people. I actually wrote that one a while back, just for me. It came out in one sitting with very little editing. No one else was ever supposed to hear it.

One day in the studio, I thought of it, and I wanted a good version for myself, so I asked Marc to start a new track, and I sang it. He liked it and planted the seed of an idea that I put it on the CD. I had it on the list of songs for consideration and shocked myself a bit that I put it on. It makes me feel vulnerable, and at the same time I don’t live in that space anymore.

Seven of the eleven songs on the CD were written within the past year and a half, and the other four are older ones that I wanted to include in this collection. I surprised myself a bit by what I left out and what I kept in some instances.

I feel proud of this CD. My dad died in March of 2011, and that ushered in a period of intense creativity – it felt like the veils between the sacred and the ordinary were thin. At the same time, I committed to songwriting for 55 minutes a day. I call it my Duck Sessions, because at the end of 55 minutes, the duck on my iPhone timer quacks. This has been my most prolific time, and I’m grateful that new songs continue to be unearthed. I’ve even begun writing customized songs for other people. There are two of those on this CD as well.”

Allow

Breathe. Listen. Feel. Watch.

Allow.

After the events of the last few months, tonight, just sitting and being open to music, feels like a luxury.

Working, talking, rushing. These things are sometimes a balm, sometimes a burden. So I’m setting aside unfinished work—unfinished thoughts even—to simply listen. To allow the soothing guitar lines of Merlin and the Fox to wash over me. To let the voice of Francesca Baines draw me away from this desk, away, away . . .

Woods rise up in my mind along with a memory of Joni Mitchell, and further back now, Annie Haslam. The walking pace of the guitar takes me back to a pre ironic time, where I discover  a lovely voice I’ve never heard. The voice of a Siren from Kinsale, Ireland.

Suddenly, as I listen and write, as I stop worrying about who’s reading, and allow the song to open me up, tears form in my eyes, and I realize just how generous the artists who contribute their music to this blog really are. Offering us their work, song after song, because they want us to hear it. Because they want to give us what they love. Because they must make music, and unless shared, music is not complete.

Francesca

He dwells in the forest with the sleeping owl 
The infants of his oak crack on the ground 
The distant cry of a horn turns to a nearing howl 
Approaching are the huntsmen and their hounds

The fox I feel him falter, wild-eyed and panting fast 
Together we’ll be surefooted let us be calm 
And turn our gaze to the grandfather trees that open out their boughs 
To the outlaws, to the travelers seeking alms

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild 
Broceliande bore this child 

My path it strays in the maze to the line of men holding their guns 
I fight my flighting urge to turn and run 
And offer them my heart ‘though their foe is more my friend 
We greet each other in a foreign tongue

Cloak him in the scent of heather and the stirring leaves 
Soothe his shaking body still as stone 
Shroud his beating heart in the lichen and the moss 
‘Till fur and the forest become one

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild 
Broceliande bore this child 

And Merlin you were near as the shots ran out so clear 
As I held a glowing acorn in my hand 
Like a bullet how it shone, like the eyes of your feathered one 
That left a tawny token where I did stand

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild 
Broceliande bore this child

Restez toujour un âme sauvage 
Ne les laissez pas vous apprivoiser

From Vela, released 21 October 2012
Francesca Baines: voice, guitar, whispering forest
Bruno Hollemaert: accordion

Francesca Baines says:

Merlin & the Fox was written whilst walking in the enchanted forests of Broceliande in Brittany, home of the Arthurian stories. I was looking for the tomb of Merlin when I could hear a fox hunt happening. I started singing a song of protection for the fox and was reminded of one of Merlin’s stories; how he grew up wild and nurtured by the forest itself, and how Vivienne, Lady of the Lake, entrapped him by encircling him in a silken bind, in which he was invisibly tied to her for life. She trained him in spellcraft and gave him many powers, and yet he was a wild man enslaved. Sadly on this day, as I regarded a bright acorn, I could hear the gun shots of the distant hunters. And as I felt the shock of a dead fox, an owl feather fell to the ground – the bird associated with this fine wizard. So this song is for the wild and the untamed.
Working on the song in Foix at the foot of the Pyrenees, I stayed with a man, Paulin, who told me his experience of walking with a Mongolian shaman woman, who sang in clicks, buzzes and hums. By accentuating the consonants within the lyrics and merging the voice with recordings of woodland walks I have endeavored to evoke the elemental nature of a witch’s intonements to echo the aliveness of these whispering forests. French accordionist Bruno Hollemaert brought so much depth of feeling to this song written on guitar and voice.”

 

Like the Sea

Like The Sea

The sea, I feel you like the sea,
deep inside, yet so far away.

I cling to every word you say,
you stole my heart, please give it back to me.

Could it be that it was all just a game to you?
Am I really such a fool?
Don´t you feel the nearness of us?
Life without you is just a rainy day.

Time plays tricks on our minds.
Still I hope there´ll be for us a time.

Anjù is Anja Graefe, a singer songwriter from Ulm, Germany. Anjù recorded Like the Sea at her home, and perhaps that’s part of what gives the song such an intimate sound, but most likely it’s Anjù’s voice, which is quiet, often just above a whisper. The lovely acoustic guitar part and bare bones bass line that accompany Anjù’s spare and sophisticated vocals offer the perfect amount of support to both singer and song.

Anjù‘s smooth voice has just the right amount of inflection and vibrato for contemporary folk, jazz, and even blues. Her approach to blues on her digital album The Attic Sessions is especially refreshing; there are no snarling or guttural sounds that all too often hit the listener over the head because they’re just not, well, snarly or guttural in the right way. Anjù on the other hand sounds a bit like Fiona Apple might sound if she were drifting off into a dream . . . Maybe even a little like Nora Jones. Anjù also tips her hat vocally to some of the icons of jazz, but possibly Chet Baker more than anyone. Just Get Lost, The third track on The Attic Sessions made me smile.

You can get Anjù‘s digital album The Attic Sessions on her bandcamp site and I suggest you do. There are quite a few songs that are just as good as Like the Sea, and all have the same sparse arrangement of voice and guitar. All the songs on The Attic Sessions, whether they’re bluesy or jazz influenced, are evocative and atmospheric, and Anjù’s voice has a lovely, subtle musicality that invites the listener in. Enjoy.

 

Ghost Trails

“Ghostly folks from Chicago . . . “.

That’s about all I know about Chief Ghoul.

The song Ghost Trails was recently submitted to the Sirenstories SoundCloud and although it’s labeled folk and definitely is, the music has a grunge edge to it that makes me think of Eddie Vedder. Eddie Vedder on some old car radio, and the vehicle is driving nearly out of range of the station. The reception is iffy, but I keep listening.

Blues guitar, low-fi production, and a whistled countermelody that serves as a chorus and is almost cheery, all work together with the dark vocals to create an intriguing sound that makes me want to hear more from Chief Ghoul.

If you feel the same way, click on the Chief. You’ll wind up on last.fm where you can listen to nine more Chief Ghoul tunes.