Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vanessa Kafka - Into Place

Now that we’re approaching the anniversary of our first full year of Ripple service, The Pope and I have been around long enough to anticipate new releases from some of our earlier discovered Ripple favorites. Already, bands like Mountain Mirrors, Heavy Water Experiments, Braintoy and Dream Aria have followed up early releases with newer, grander albums. And now, perched poetically on the edge of my desk here at the Ripple office, sits the long-awaited, brand new release from one of our favorite singer-songwriters, Vanessa Kafka.

It was way back in June that we first heard the dreamy tones of Vanessa’s musical creation, alerted by her friend Kristen at Aberrant Sound/Brewhouse Records and it didn’t take more than a few listens to her myspace offerings for me and the Pope to recognize that we were tuning in to something special. Three months later, with the release of her debut full-length CD, Into Place, Vanessa just went ahead and surpassed our grandest expectations.

A singer gifted with a voice of uncommon beauty, Vanessa has crafted a dreamy, atmospheric yet rootsy, heart-felt collection of telling and poignant songs. Early Ripple favorites “Silhouette,” “If He Stays,” and “Tell Me So,” sit comfortably with new songs like “Better,” creating a CD full of power, romance and touching splendor. The impeccably clean production never loses its warmth or intimacy, drawing you into the vastness of Vanessa's heart, fully exposed on this album. Like a fire crackling on a cold winter's night, Vanessa beckons to you, drawing you in, wrapping around you in a cocoon of dreamy melodies. Like the fire, her music is naked and slightly dangerous, yet comforting and mesmerizing. Raw, yet refined. It is the music of emotion, hers and ours, shared and individual, personal and universal.

Blessed with a voice that fits somewhere between Suzanne Vega, and Natalie Merchant, with traces of the mournful intonations of Sarah McLachlan, Vanessa has no difficulty carrying the heart-wrenching emotion of her songs. Accompanied by a top-notch group of musicians, including her producer and guitarist, Brian Sargent, the music comes to life effortlessly around her, like a field of clouds carrying her in its wispy path through tales of broken hearts, shattered dreams, and ultimate hope.

“Speak in Words,” starts us off on our journey through Vanessa’s heart, delicate and fragile, riding on the muted notes of a single guitar. As the band kicks in, so does the power of Vanessa’s voice. Sounding strongly reminiscent of Natalie Merchant on this track, the verses build in intensity, the band growing in fervor, Vanessa’s voice rising in power as she searches for a lost connection with her lover. A dynamite opening track, revealing the full intention of where Vanessa plans to take us with this disc.

“Better,” packs solid hooks into its dramatic guitar playing, hinting at Jewel without the coy preciousness. Then “Silhouette,” picks up the pace, riding a toe-tapping beat, jaunty guitar strumming and a melody as sweet as cotton candy. As “Sink,” slows things down a bit, listen for the absolutely perfect transition from that track to the slightly, down-home funky “Forgery.” I had to replay my CD player 3 or 4 times to fully absorb the subtle beauty of that mood change. Dig the loosely-strung guitar playing and Vanessa’s voice as she gets just a little bit mean and nasty. No two ways about it, that track is a winner and will be undulating from the Ripple speakers for a long time to come. The vaguely Suzanne Vega-esque vocal phrasing of “If He Stays,” follows, a shimmering piece of rootsy pop perfection.

Into Place isn’t a rocking album, not something to accompany your nights shooting pool with the boys or watching NASCAR with your friend the plumber, but it’ll be a damn fine listen the morning after. An album to listen to, to mediate over, to use as your own catharsis, discovering emotions that perhaps you never took the time to express yourself. I could go on about each song, but that may dampen your own thrill of discovery, so I’ll call it here. Just know that a new voice is in town that just demands to be heard. So grab a hot cup of tea, sit with your dog on the back deck, scratching him behind the ears in time to the drums, watch the hummingbird flutter back and forth in your flower garden and sit a while with this one. Let it enter you. Let it fill you.

You just might find out something about yourself in the process.

--Racer

Buy here: Into Place

Download Vanessa for free.

http://www.brewhouserecords.com/03_silhouette.mp3



Buy here: Into Place

Download Vanessa for free.

http://www.brewhouserecords.com/03_silhouette.mp3



3 comments:

Anonymous said...

From beginning to end, I could not stop listening, every song is a beautiful surprise, they all had a familiar feeling and say the words that I never had the guts to say. Amazing sound, voice, lirics and melody. I predict a fantastic future for Vanessa.

Anonymous said...

Normally this wouldn't be the style of music I drift towards, but after listening to "Into Place" I realize what a mistake that was. The music draws you in with the great lyrics, and better delivery of those lyrics with Vanessa's voice. I suggest getting on the Vanessa bandwagon now, before she hits it big.

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