Saturday, July 16, 2011

CD Odyssey Disc 297: Rose Reiter

I had a bit of unexpected driving yesterday (specifically, I was jonesing for some McDonald's cheeseburgers after my workout) and as a result I was able to blast through another album pretty quickly - this time some local fare (the music - not the McDonalds - God knows where the ingredients for that are from).

Disc 297 is...Real V. 3.0

Artist: Rose Reiter

Year of Release: 2005

What’s Up With The Cover?: It is one of the 'giant head' series. Gordon Lightfoot would be proud. However, Rose Reiter's head is considerably easier on the eyes than Gordon Lightfoot's.

How I Came To Know It: Believe it or not, we are friends with some people who are friends with the artist and they gave us a copy of the CD to enjoy.

How It Stacks Up: I only have this one album, but I like it.

Rating: 3 stars.

This is the one of the more personal albums in the Odyssey. As noted above, Rose Reiter and I have mutual friends, which is how I heard about her music. In fact, about a year or two after I had received this album, I met the artist at a garden barbecue and had a good chat with her about music, literature and various other arty pursuits. She is a very interesting person, and it was a fairly unique experience to be able to discuss an album with the artist who recorded it. Thanks for taking the time, Rose!

Since I'm not one for excess back story, let's move right on to the album, which is a sort of pop/folk fusion sound reminscent of other Canadian artists like Sarah McLachlan and Mae Moore. I really enjoy both those artists, so it is no surprise that I enjoyed this album as well.

Reiter has a tremendous voice, and her talent is another example of just what a crapshoot it is to 'hit it big' in the music industry. I certainly hope she does soon, because seeing the dubious qualities of American Idol pop tarts selling gold records while artists like Reiter remain unknown to the masses is hard to take.

Stylistically, the music reminded me of a cross between Moore and McLachlan to me. There are some early songs on "Real V.3.0" where I would say she doesn't fully open up her vocals where I'd like her to (later songs prove she is more than capable), but overall her power is easily felt. On the songs where she doesn't belt it out it isn't through lack of ability, but more a conscious decision on the recording.

The songs vary in complexity of production, and the ones I liked best tended to be more sparse - usually just Reiter singing accompanied by a lone guitar or piano. These dressed down tracks do a better job of showcasing one of her strengths, that being the emotional truth in her delivery. "Let Go" and "This Life" spring to mind as two of my favourites in this regard.

As an aside, I once did a series of album of "duets" where I matched songs with the same title, as different songs by different artists. I matched "Let Go" with Blue Oyster Cult's song of the same name from their "Revolution By Night" album. Two more different songs couldn't be put on a mixed CD, methinks. I might've mentioned it to Rose Reiter when I met her but I can't remember now. I recall having had a couple of beers, so odds are I did.

My main criticisms are the usual ones. The record comes in at 16 tracks, which is two more than my maximum. I think this record would be tighter with 12-14 tracks, where the ear could get a good feel for the songs, without shifting gears overmuch. I also would've liked the song titles to be capitalized. I've never heard a convincing artistic argument for not doing so.

Lastly, while the production on this album is excellent, there is one song ("7:24") where studio discussions are featured that makes the song sound very unfinished. Leaving these sounds in may give a feeling of verity to the work, but it always serves to pull me out of experiencing the art when they happen - kind of like watching a play from backstage. This may only happen once, but I called Bob Dylan out for it back at Disc 159, so I am obligated to point them out for everyone else.

Overall, this album was a pleasant surprise from an artist I had no preconceived notions of. She is a talented singer/songwriter who deserves even greater success, and I wish her well on the road.

Best tracks: Let Go, Then, This Life, When I Come Down

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