Strange Conversation

( 1 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Seth Kaufman
At first glance, Kris Delmhorst’s ambitious and triumphant Strange Conversation might seem to merit a cautionary sticker: Music Advisory: Pretentious Content. But thankfully, no warning is needed. Delmhorst executes her classy concept -- turning poems from the likes of Browning, Byron, Witman, E.E. Cummings and others into songs -- by delivering celebratory tracks that are short on pomposity, long on inspiration, and wisely powered by rootsy, moody, skiffle ‘n blues arrangements and her own sultry Madeline Peyroux-meets- Dar Williams vocals. Some of the poems here get new lyrics while others inspire completely new works. Delmhorst’s interpretive powers are respectful ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Seth Kaufman
At first glance, Kris Delmhorst’s ambitious and triumphant Strange Conversation might seem to merit a cautionary sticker: Music Advisory: Pretentious Content. But thankfully, no warning is needed. Delmhorst executes her classy concept -- turning poems from the likes of Browning, Byron, Witman, E.E. Cummings and others into songs -- by delivering celebratory tracks that are short on pomposity, long on inspiration, and wisely powered by rootsy, moody, skiffle ‘n blues arrangements and her own sultry Madeline Peyroux-meets- Dar Williams vocals. Some of the poems here get new lyrics while others inspire completely new works. Delmhorst’s interpretive powers are respectful and smart: Byron’s "We’ll Go No More A Roving" is a shuffling, bluesy elegy; "Water Water," her take on Robert Herrick’s "Scare-Fire," is a barn-burner; and the version of Cummings "Pretty How Town" is a fiddle-fueled hoe-down -- fun and whimsical, yet trickily arranged. When she takes her pen out, Delmhorst holds her own on some of the strongest tracks here. The giddy "Galuppi Baldassare" bounces off Robert Browning’s own tribute to composer Baldassare Galuppi, while the haunting pairing of "Strange Conversation" and "The Drop & The Dream" mine Hermann Broch’s lyrical novel The Death of Virgil to muse on the artistic drive to create. While that may sound a bit heady, don’t fret, the album closes with a simpler idea: "Everything Is Music." Here Delmhorst repurposes Rumi’s wonderful line ‘We have fallen into the place where everything is music." It's a fitting finale. Strange Conversation, where music is poetry and poetry is music, is one of those places.
All Music Guide - Joe Viglione
Recorded simultaneously with her Shotgun Singer CD but issued prior to that release, the difference here is that Kris Delmhorst takes established writings by the likes of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Rumi, e.e. cummings and a variety of other established wordsmiths, finding not only inspiration in their thoughts, but embracing their artistry within her own in much the same way that author Sena Jeter Naslund found motivation for the novel Ahab's Wife in Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Walt Whitman probably never envisioned his "A Passage to India" translated into "Light of the Light," a production that might feel a bit out of place on this country/folk disc, but still works within the context because Delmhorst is a confident and accomplished musician and visionary who won't let a genre interfere with what she chooses to discuss. It is also the most radio-friendly track and has "hit" written all over it. Strange Conversation sounds like it was influenced by the Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo more than poetry from long ago and contains the Delmhorst stamp to such an extent that unless one is familiar with the source material they'd miss the fact that this is a collaborative effort. Self-produced in North Reading, MA with engineer Chris Rival on the boards, the sound is very consistent with this artist's other releases while stylistically dipping into other bags. The cover art of piles of books against the color green suggests a spoken word disc and hardly indicates that such an exciting palette of sound is contained herein. Both "Invisible Choir" and the final track, "Everything Is Music," are immersed in New Orleans flavors while the ambient folk of "Sea Fever" suggests Enya is the collaborator, not poet John Masefield making a posthumous contribution. And "Since You Went Away" feels in sentiment like it owes more to Buffy Sainte-Marie than James Weldon Johnson, but that's the beauty of this work, the majority of its listeners are probably not going to pick up on the "source" material, as disguised or derived as it may be. Bassist Paul Kochanski is certainly the right choice for the project, his talents as a member of Swinging Steaks finding their way on to the craftsmanship of Alastair Moock, Jonathan Pointer, and Delmhorst labelmates Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem make him one of the key bassists for this new wave of folk/bluegrass
oots rockers emerging on the once very parochial rock & roll scene. The title track, "Strange Conversation," is the appropriate choice for that honor. Delmhorst's sultry vocal on material she conjures up from modernist Hermann Broch's "The Death of Virgil" is pure pop/folk, and most compelling pop/folk at that. Released in between the cultivated Songs for a Hurricane disc and the heady sophistication of Shotgun Singer, the music here is more traditional folk / country with the exception of "Light of the Light," "The Drop & the Dream," and "Water, Water," any of which would have fit perfectly on Shotgun Singer. It's an impressive and ambitious work that is evidence of the sophistication enveloping the Kris Delmhorst catalog and one hopes that these important musings get noticed beyond the cult that realizes something very special is happening here.
Boston Globe - Sarah Tomlinson
As she did with Conway, Delmhorst creates a moody sound. Her sweet, sleepy vocals, which sometimes recall Lucinda Williams, keep the album fresh and relaxed.... An assured model of sophisticated songwriting and heartfelt musicianship.
Los Angeles Daily News - Bob Strauss
A rousing, tuneful celebration of literate and lively music.... This is the smartest good time you'll have with a disc all year.

As she did with Conway, Delmhorst creates a moody sound. Her sweet, sleepy vocals, which sometimes recall Lucinda Williams, keep the album fresh and relaxed.... An assured model of sophisticated songwriting and heartfelt musicianship.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/27/2006
  • Label: Signature Sounds
  • UPC: 701237129921
  • Catalog Number: 1299
  • Sales rank: 128,832

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Kris Delmhorst Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Fiddle, Piano, Cello, Vocals, Voices
Kevin Barry Acoustic Guitar, Dobro, Piano, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Lap Steel Guitar
Lorne Entress Percussion, Drums, Vocals
Paul Kochanski Vocals, Upright Bass
Mike Peipman Trumpet
Tom West Hammond Organ
Chris Rival Organ
Mark Chenevert Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Dave Harris Trombone, Tuba
Technical Credits
Dave McNair Mastering
Chris Rival Engineer, Fader Engineer
Coleman Barks translation
John Masefield Composer
Brian Turner Artwork
Kris Delmhorst Composer, Producer, Adaptation
Lord Byron Composer
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Poetry in Motion

    At hearing a few of her poetry inspired tunes on NPR yesterday I decided this would be the next music purchase for me. This is saying something, since the last time I bought music was over 7 years ago! This is a CD the whole family can enjoy without worry of bad influences and the music is quite lovely to boot!!

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews