ROCK & REPRISE.NET
I follow Lisbee Stainton on Facebook. I have ever since her last album Girl On an Unmade Bed traversed the Atlantic to my door and serenaded me into submission. I use the word 'serenade' because it was a slow process. I liked the music at first listen but each successive hearing drew me deeper and deeper into the magic spell Stainton weaves and before long I found myself humming Harriet while standing in lines at the grocery and not caring if it disturbed the people carrying on half-conversations on their blue teeth with people miles away or those tapping their droids and iphones with such focused insistence. Stainton has carried me through many a long line, her music a salve to my disgust at this strange world in which I, like Howard the Duck (insert trademark icon here), find myself entrapped.
I don't use my mental re-creations of Stainton to isolate myself, understand. I use it as background music, if you will—- a soundtrack to the everyday foibles of man. It is fun, blocking out all but the Stainton tune of the moment while watching the world turn. It is not unlike standing in the other room while a sitcom blasts from the TV and all you can really hear are the laugh tracks. It gives you perspective. Mumble mumble mumble SHORT BLAST OF LAUGHTER mumble mumble SHORT BLAST OF LAUGHTER , ad infinitum. I don't hate those people messaging from their little bubbles but it disturbs me when they block themselves out of the immediate. To me, they have become both the mumbles and the short bursts of laughter. Ad infinitum.
Lisbee Stainton, though, is the immediate. She is real. She is so real that when I hear her, I again have high hopes for the music business if only for the duration of a song. Her voice lifts me, her songs humble me and what she has accomplished in a very short period of time astounds me. Firefly, her first album, was good. Girl On an Unmade Bed, her second, was better. Go is..... what can I say that says what I want without going overboard? Is 'exceptional' acceptable? I would use 'phenomenal' except I am afraid her next album will be as big a jump from Go as Go is from Girl On an Unmade Bed and where would that leave it on that scale of one to ten? How much further can you go than phenomenal? Uh, no pun intended.
I wish words could make you listen because there is so much to listen to here. The Archives is a folk/psych dreamscape worthy of so many outstanding bands who called and call the UK home--- Silly Wizard, Fotheringay, Steeleye Span (why don't we hear much about them these days?), Clannad. It sounds like none of them but uses so much of what they are and were, musically. Maybe not as roots-driven, but in the same ballpark. The Archives is notable for the vocal harmonies alone. The Author delves into deep folk, beautiful and floating, with an analogous message about turning the page, the lyrics being “I know that when he goes, the plotline goes, I'll turn my back and go back to before”. Anyone who knows the magic of a good novel will be able to relate.
Some songs are what I call 'builders' in that they start soft and build to a crescendo, emotional or musical. We Don't Believe in Monsters is one of those, moving from delicate to uplifting in three and a half minutes. And, oh, the melody and harmonies, once again. Stainton really stretches her muscles as composer on Sleepwalker, a song structured as much as a composition as a song. The mere insertion of the chord progression on the chorus gives the song depth and separates it from the verse, something which had it been done a bit more clumsily would have failed. It does not fail here. Even the odd Jethro Tull-like flute on the bridge stands out.
To say I'm impressed would be an understatement. I am knocked out and, dare I say, a bit proud. Proud to have found Stainton at a very vulnerable stage of her career. Proud to have recognized what a major talent she is. Okay, maybe pride is not the word I'm looking for, but you know what I mean. It's that feeling you get when you find that album six months before everyone else. Or better yet, when they bring the album over to your house and say look what I found only to have you point out that you played it for them six months earlier and they had ignored it. Bad thing is, I have surrounded myself with the kind of people who don't ignore good music and they actually hear the music, which can be fun in itself, I suppose. The only thing better than really hearing music is hearing it with someone else who hears what you hear. It is a high in itself.
Need I go through the motions here? Seems like most reviews I write I end by pointing out the positives--- the voice, the songwriting, the arrangements, the musicianship, the production. Put a check by every one of those when it comes to Go. It is downright magnificent, top to bottom.
And before I go (again, no pun intended), allow me to point out that Stainton plays all her own guitar parts. Like I've always said, the only thing better than a pretty lady is a pretty lady who can play guitar. Lisbee Stainton can play. Life is good.
Frank O. Gutch Jr.
Supporting the Indies Since 1969