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Bridge and Tunnel

I discovered Linda Draper years ago through a music sampler, Needlessly not at all out of place among Pop Culture Press's serving of alt and power pop tracks. Light and just short of wispy, her approach to the song caught my ear and I immediately became a fan. There was something about the downturns in her voice at certain times that gave the song a unique twist.

Needlessly was enough for me to log her name for future reference and when the Traces Of EP came out in 2005 and then 2007's Keepsake album in 2007, I was ready. From Needlessly to full-blown fan in, what, fourteen songs? No. It was full-blown fan from Needlessly on. I just did not know it at the time.

It is 2009 now and time for Bridge and Tunnel and its release confirms what I already knew: There is something about Linda Draper which goes way beyond the music itself. That something, simply put, is Linda Draper herself.

I believe I used the word 'disarming' to describe Draper's earlier efforts and it applies here as well. Bridge and Tunnel is both a positive and a negative--- positive in that the music and voice take center stage, simple and direct, and negative in that we as consumers have come to rely on the bells and whistles at first listen and seem to move quickly on when not hearing them. Let's face it. The consumer in us these days relies too much on soundbyte and not enough on substance. Draper is all about substance.

The substance of Bridge and Tunnel is life in all its stages. In her slow and methodical way, Draper lays out warning after warning that life is more than we realize, that pettiness makes us less. Simple instrumentation and arrangements reinforce the message by supplementing rather than overwhelming. It is genius, this melding of understatement, but doubtful that Draper planned it that way. It just happens with her. It is natural. That is what makes her music so accessible.

In a recent interview with Popdose, Linda Draper voiced the thoughts on many an indie musician's minds: How can I make a living making music? It is not easy these days. She has found it impossible. Thanks to an impending degree in music therapy, she will conjoin music and music therapy into a lifestyle more conducive to eating regularly. You have to wonder, though, what it is about a world which cannot support a musician as talented as Linda Draper. I shake my head...

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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