MP3 Chris Warren - Crazy Wisdom
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14 MP3 Songs
POP: Folky Pop, POP: Quirky
An insane amount of time went into making Crazy Wisdom, Chris Warren's first full length CD. And it is full length. Wise? Who knows. Crazy? Definitely. Worth it? You'll have to check it out.
Made at a time when rumors of the death of the album were, if not flying, at least beginning to peck out of the egg, this is the kind of recording that artists in the sixties spent a lot of money (mostly on drugs) making. It is also the kind of album a musical visionary with very little time for trendy sounds makes.
Somehow the album is more timely now than at its release seven years ago. And if its discovery comes as a pleasurable surprise to anyone in the world, it is bound to be just as great a surprise to Torontonians, where Warren remains something of a dark horse--like his birthday-mate George Harrison (disingenuous Beatles name-drop). Warren polishes lyrics only slightly less fussily than Leonard Cohen, and his arrangements on Crazy Wisdom comment on the words and on the world of each song. Tracks like "God is Dead" and "Jerusalem" display the songwriter-as-conscience speaking in the low-key, offhandedly funny way that is Warren's trademark. For the rest of the album, a writer with the perceptive psychology of an Elliott Smith examines relationships, pre, post and imaginary, from the opening track Graveyard of Friends to the somehow redemptive November Song with its refrain, "Love comes, love is abandoned, love is embraced again". And if the music is lush and melodic, the words are subtly ironic, knowing, and brutally honest.
The twenty-odd contributors, apart from Warren on guitars, woodwinds, and some percussion, are a who's who of Toronto indie artists, including Kathryn Rose, songwriter and current back-up singer for Sarah McLachlan, and acerbic Mississauga singer/songwriter Dan Bryk (Lovers Leap), whose keyboard work appears throughout. Hurdy gurdy, glass harmonica, tabla, Hammond B3 (forwards and backward, horns, screaming, scratching, muttering, huge vocal choruses, school bells, and some very fine solos accompany Warren's strangely intimate vocal delivery. Producer James Paul orchestrated these many performances, using some new and some classic studio recording techniques, into a sound that seems as natural and inevitable as it is iconoclastic. The album was mastered by Bill Kipper, who mastered most of Philip Glass's operas, fittingly enough.
Crazy Wisdom is the ultimate indie headphone album. Its sounds represent an artist as at home in contemporary composition, global music and jazz as he is in the work of the pop and folk artists who first inspired him, such as The Beatles, Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen and Bob Marley. Unknown as Warren was when this album was released, it was the testament to a very new and distinctive mind in pop music. As one review (Exclaim! Magazine) put it, "an absolutely original songwriter".
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