Dusted Reviews

Connie Acher & Blind Drunk John - For The Love Of It

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Connie Acher & Blind Drunk John

Album: For The Love Of It

Label: Flipped Out

Review date: Nov. 11, 2003

Is it just this writer’s imagination or do female singer/songwriter types all emulate exactly one style of vocal technique in every contemporary musical period? Vocalization of lyrics in a genre renowned for self-expression usually results in a pantomime of the leading lady of the day (yes, this happens with male singers too, but for this review let’s stick to the Venetian half). Each decade seemed to have a creative burst of discovery followed by legions of flimsy warbling which hovered ever nearer to some stylized “ideal,” only to be rooted up again and repeated. Whether through the flowery Joni Mitchell, the empowered Carly Simon, or the harrowing Kathleen Hannah, thousands of girls learned to voice themselves through the mimicry of a pop star’s tone. It is not the purpose here to debate whether this is partly intentional or not, nor is there room to explore why males and females barely emulate each other’s styles (biology has little to do with it). It is just all the more refreshing when a voice comes around that actually sounds distinct and singular.

Connie Acher is another in the small circle of artists released on Albany, New York’s Flipped Out Records (see this writer’s account of the small independent label’s backstory for another of its releases here). The closest comparison to Connie’s voice may be Paul McCartney’s on his first solo album for Apple Records, if only for the fact that low-fi double-tracked vocals can be amazingly beautiful, no matter what the song’s content. Recently transplanting herself to New York City, Acher brings the Albany message to the masses, performing at Jersey freeform station WFMU and touring slightly more than never. According to Flipped Out Records proprietor Jack Wingate, Connie “is an artist/painter/illustrator who started giving me assorted 4-track cassettes of her bedroom sessions years ago and I loved her stuff right away....so far I have done three records with her and am waiting for tapes of what will end up as the fourth record.” The sparse instrumentation of her third album, For The Love Of It, reveals an artist comfortable with her own presence as well as a sardonic wit aimed at NY’s bohemian jet-set.

There is almost a hypnotic quality to Connie’s style that deceives a superficial listening. Further inspection reveals a slyness and mastery of material that needs no more than a ukulele or cello for accompaniment (hence the sporadic presence of Blind Drunk John, who has contributed to past Acher records under various pseudonyms). “Happy Harlem” details the fineries of living in NYC next to the self-imposed poverty of indie youth, while “Golden Success” skewers the path of least resistance for corporate ladder climbers everywhere. Where else can one hear “resume” rhymed in a couplet with “401(k)”? Connie Acher has come here to bury New York, not to praise it.

While recorded at home, For The Love Of It has the feel of a road album with its relaxed depiction of colorful settings. She’s definitely on the move, and belongs to a group of few musicians residing in New York City who can provide an outsider’s reflection on that cultural magnate. She is definitely not first in line for gals to emulate, nor is she starting a manifesto-driven movement or fashion shift for now. Let’s all thank Connie for that at least.

P.S. Snobs will be quick to point out that Kathleen Hannah is a dead ringer for Poly Styrene, but of course that doesn’t diminish the cultural argument for pop vocal (and otherwise) mimicry leading into mediocrity. One of the shining examples of this phenomenon in a controlled environment is, of course, the replacement of Peter Gabriel by Phil Collins, who sounded more like Gabriel than the man himself.

By Kevan Harris

Read More

View all articles by Kevan Harris

Find out more about Flipped Out

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.