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Queen of the Meadow
     

Queen of the Meadow

5.0 1
by Elysian Fields
 
In Greek mythology, the Elysian Fields are considered heaven, and in heaven you may be once you hear the sultry voice of Elysian Fields vocalist Jennifer Charles. She's the daughter of a torch singer and definitely sounds like one, but what makes this NYC-based group different is their avoidance of the predictable. You might expect such a voice to be backed by a

Overview

In Greek mythology, the Elysian Fields are considered heaven, and in heaven you may be once you hear the sultry voice of Elysian Fields vocalist Jennifer Charles. She's the daughter of a torch singer and definitely sounds like one, but what makes this NYC-based group different is their avoidance of the predictable. You might expect such a voice to be backed by a lounge band or trip hop, but the group's diverse, organic backing creates an unexpected yet perfectly fitting complement. Driven by guitarist Oren Bloedow, the band create vivid, cinematic music that is rock in format but allows room for violin, keyboards, and more esoteric instruments such as even bagpipes. Although generally dark and slow, the music often wanders into unexpected places: "Dream Within a Dream" (featuring an Edgar Allan Poe poem) is wispy and ghostlike; "Hearts Are Open Graves" has incongruously slick musical accompaniment; and "Bend Your Mind" is comparatively hard-hitting rock. Imagine Mazzy Star crossed with Tom Waits, and light candles before hitting "play."

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stanton Swihart
The always-alluring Jennifer Charles is the focal point of Elysian Fields, and her aching purr goes a long way in making the band as enticing as it is. But it is not so clear-cut as to who is the architect of their sound, because beneath that fantastic voice on a song such as "Bayonne," Oren Bloedow's arrangement, as minimalistic as the song seems to be, turns out to be the Venus flytrap of the tune. With just some stoned, lackadaisical drumming and droopy-eyed Rhodes piano falling like raindrops, the song subtly makes some rather radical shifts and chord progressions. The listener doesn't even realize they've been caught in the musical web until Charles comes along to devour them, but it is the music that actually does the snagging. So it goes for the entirety of the duo's second album (and first on Jetset following a split with former label Radioactive, who refused to release a previous album they had recorded with producer Steve Albini), Queen of the Meadow, a deliciously mesmerizing and irresistible opus that is a perfect confluence of sly and furtive (but very much narrative) musical backdrops and lusty insinuation. Part of the duo's secret is that they change things up both stylistically and temperamentally while maintaining that certain smoke-filled tension via Charles' singing. Instead of giving you a long, slow cigarette drag for 11 straight songs, they mix up tempo and mood: slinkily rocking on "Bend Your Mind" or gently swinging as on the titillating "Tides of the Moon," then turning it way down on the nearly comatose old-world lament, "Barely Recognize," then bouncing back yet again with the stunning "Friday Night," which adds a little anguish to a little spice until the song pulls itself up out of its torpor and turns into playfully cutting jazz. Bloedow's boyhood heroes were Brian Wilson and Kurt Weill, and as odd as that pair seems on paper, they are both very much present in the arrangements; they turn out to be an exquisite match, especially on "Dream Within a Dream." Dribbling Wilson-esque piano chords over queasy orchestration, the song is theatrical and playful, but also self-consciously pensive. The best songs, though, strip the music down to just the barest essentials, as on "Black Acres." Cloaked in stark, noir hues, the song is part woeful Italian ballad and part torch song, with Charles' voice playing innocent while her words play the game of temptation. Queen of the Meadow is not necessarily visionary -- Tom Waits and Mazzy Star, to name two artists that have been referenced in regard to Elysian Fields, have explored similar territory -- but it is a scintillating, self-contained work nonetheless, both poetic and wonderfully profane, artistic but not necessarily arty, and full of fabulous songs.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/14/2000
Label:
Jet Set Records
UPC:
0604978003324
catalogNumber:
780033

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Elysian Fields   Primary Artist
Oren Bloedow   Bass,Guitar,Harmonica,Vocals,Wurlitzer
Jennifer Charles   Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Wurlitzer
James Genus   Bass
Ben Perowsky   Banjo,Drums
Jane Scarpantoni   Cello
Joan Wasser   Violin
Jamie Saft   Guitar,Piano,Accordion,farfisa organ,Wurlitzer,Hammond Synth
Good   Guitar,Harmonica
Evil   Bass,Percussion,Wurlitzer

Technical Credits

Elysian Fields   Producer
Good   Producer,Engineer
Evil   Producer,Engineer
Good & Evil   Producer

Customer Reviews

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Queen of the Meadow 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing and beautiful album. Great songs that get under you skin. Moody and hypnotic. Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow are wonderful songwriters and musicians, and everyone that plays with them is great too, all very subtle and tasteful choices, and also unusual and original. Favorite songs include "Black Acres", featuring moody violin, "Queen of the Meadow", where Oren takes the lead vocal duties quite nicely, "Dream Within A Dream", a song interpretation of a Poe poem, and "Rope of Weeds", a poetic and haunting sea tale with a necrophilic slant! This album is a classic and a must have for anyone who love's Jennifer's honey-soaked voice.