A nice surprise awaited me this morning on Rdio (and Spotify) when I was greeted with ‘Tambourine’ – a brand new release from great Canadian songwriter Fred Eaglesmith.
“Drunk Girl” is easily my early favorite – and what a surprise, it’s a ballad! Sorry, always a sucker for one. Funny name for a ballad, I know. But the gist of it is that Fred’s had his heart right ripped out of his chest by a lost lover, and tonight – dammit all – he’s looking for a drunk girl to come “sail away” with him – to “weave on down Revelation Hill, down to the old mill street”. I picture a man sitting at the far corner of a dimly lit tavern bar. He’s a couple of whiskeys in, a slight sad smile on his face, as he resigns himself to his fate for the night. You know that smile, the one Bruce Springsteen nails about 2 minutes into his “One Step Up” video.
Reverb-drenched guitar chord strikes and arpeggios, Fred’s unmistakeable vocals, all delivered in an early rock n’ roll era sweetness.
I’ve said it before – a large part of the allure of M.I.A.‘s music for me lies in the physical realm. If she resembled a Sri Lankan Mugsy Bogues, I may not have become enamored with her back in the Arular days. But indeed she does not resemble Mugsy Bogues. She’s an exotic, caramel-skinned south Asian beauty with a fuck you attitude, who puts together some of the most unique beats and sounds around.
On Tuesday, she released Matangi, only her fourth studio release in the last 8 years. Her last album, Maya (2010) didn’t do too much for me, but after a couple of listens to Matangi, she’s got me back the same way Arular and Kala had me.
It’s the creativity I love – having no idea what she’s going to bring you from song to song. The layered tracks are exotic, odd, surprising, sexy, disturbing, and completely original. A couple of tunes from Matangi have already risen to the top (for now – that’s sure to change). “Y.A.L.A.”, and this one: “Lights”… The booming bass, the tribal percussion, and the way her vocals fluctuate throughout the song – high to low, raps morphing into melodies, all winding its way through the changing rhythms.
I know if I approached 10 of my friends with this album (or any M.I.A. album, for that matter), 9 and a half of them would turn and look me in the eyes with a confused look. That’s okay. I’m not seeking validation. I gravitate to some artists just for the odd, the creative, and the adventurous. M.I.A.’s got her own thing going, and I love it.