Monday, February 19, 2007

Folk-Pop Kimchee

Listening to Catherine Howe's long-lost debut 1971 record, What A Beautiful Place, now re-issued by the masterminds at The Numero Group, the connections flood in. At first, one might think that this is the second Numero release to demonstrate the huge influence of Joni Mitchell. The elaborate arrangements, the jazzy phrasing and the general coolness evoke Court and Spark, which came later. And, in addition to Joni, Howe’s voice spurs comparisons to Karen Carpenter and Anne Murray. And then Dionne Warwick comes to mind. Finally hints of Dusty Springfield and even Sandy Denny come through. On "It’s Not Likely," the grandiose tympani, the woodwinds, the piano and the crisp snare rolls at the start always make me think of "Madman Across the Water." This music’s like kimchee, it’s been buried for a while, and may strike some as a little stinky, but it may be good for you, and it’s probably better for the time it spent underground.

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