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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Jane Anfinson

Precious Details

Review by Lisa Palmeno

A world music sound permeates theatrical vocals and pop alternative savvy on Jane Anfinson's Precious Details. Anfinson's strong, haunting voice is a mixture of Kate Bush, Debbie Harry and the singer from Siouxie and The Banshees, while she drones on inward themes.

Overall, the 12-song CD is an interesting work, with deep, subtly complex bass work and well-developed percussion parts. Portions of the songs often sound like soundtrack music. Anfinson's approach to composition is unorthodox and very noncommercial on her journey through self exploration. There is rarely dead space. Often, one song moves straight into the next as if being performed live, nearly every possible gap filled with "precious details," the subject matter of the collection. She shares some of the things she sees as precious before the songs are even heard: The design on the front of the insert has plants on it; the back has a milkweed plant springing open; and she gave a portion of the dedication "to the birds."

Dominated by electric violin, Anfinson's work is modern art with a semi-traditional instrument. Her pensive lyrics and outstanding voice, supported by a top-notch rhythm section, make this CD a must-hear for Indie music fans and beat poets.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Vital Statistics
The first song starts out pumping like a heart beat, and a heavy, melancholic violin creates a surreal mood on the lyrics: "I disassociated. I watched the fragmentation... Please take a moment to sign the documentation." Static is purposely placed into the song, which is fragmented into various parts, offering apt descriptions of the emotional, psychological journey of a patient. The percussives are unusual, and the tune is very expressive.
Back of My Hand
This is the main ballad of the CD. An easy melody drifts into a dreamlike quest for reality with "Where are we going? When will we be there?" The piece ends with a faint violin bit and runs straight into next song.
Heaven or The End
Bass is more of a feature on this one. The violin backs off more, letting bass and drums form an almost funk-style partnership. The song has a world-music feel at times, especially toward the end.
Night Flight
Anfinson's musical journey abruptly turns from "Heaven or the End" and takes off on higher tempo with sustained vocal notes. Throughout the song, movements pivot briefly to a more uplifting melody. "Night Flight" gets right back on track after the variations, finishing with a low-key landing.
Muses
Chimes, cymbals and traditional violin work invoke the ancient ladies of inspiration, firing up the imagination and the soul. "Muses" is the main highlight of the CD.
Violet
Back to the melancholy, this dark song seems to be about the strength of red and blue aspects that combine to create a violet aura.
Noticing Change
This one is suspenseful and lacking solid ground in the beginning. The chimes return, joining meandering violin parts and inconsistent drums. "Noticing Change" would be fitting background music for a film about plants growing, opening, and blowing their seeds to the wind.
Patience
Although the vocals are muffled at the beginning of "Patience," the song is more pop-sounding than the other selections. A syncopated chorus and sound effects create nice breaks from the pleasantly-pop material. "Patience" is another highlight of the CD.
Child's Play
One of the few selections with a steady rhythm the downbeat is on the bass line. The sudden end has a clean-finish, avoiding any feeling of abruptness.
In Anticipation
Influences from the Emerald Isle lead the listener on another journey, this one about returning to where we came from in the universe. It is very solid. Sharp percussion parts are interspersed with lots of chimes.
Bored
Miss Jane's repetitive lyrics "I can't wait to see you. My life is a bore," echo the sentiments of someone wanting more. This one clearly depicts the saga of a girl waiting for rescue from obvious and overwhelming boredom.
Mars
The violin solo and delayed responses on "Mars" provide an effective backdrop for a poetic story about the possible environmental difficulties of moving to Mars. The storyteller deduces that "perhaps I'd be better just staying here" (on Earth).
 
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