Laurie Antonioli – Songs Of Shadow,
Songs Of Light (Origin)
Released – August 19, 2014
Subtitled “The Music of Joni Mitchell,” right out of the box, you know it’s going to be a little bit of a tightrope act. It’s not like “The Music of Cole Porter,” or “Johnny Mercer;” songs that have been done a bazillion times, and no one (in my demographic, anyway) can remember exactly who did the original.
On these, there’s no doubt. Joni Mitchell did the original. And mostly (in my demographic, anyway), we remember how the originals sounded, and they sounded pretty damn good.
So, back to that out of the box experience: that little voice inside is saying, “Go ahead, Laurie Antonioli. Impress me with how you’ve messed with one of the greats.” It’s hard not to make the comparision. Ms. Mitchell’s lyrics were so written by her and for her; and that unique way she was able to trip through lyrics to make verses scan.
Truth is, Ms. Antonioli messes with Joni Mitchell in the very best way, mostly by sticking to the tunes that you’ve heard before, but weren’t played to death on the radio, at least not on top 40 radio. These are the ones that aren’t so burned in to the memory bank. With one big exception, only two tracks even “Bubbled Under” on Billboard’s “Hot 100″ for Ms. Mitchell: “California,” and “River,” both from 1971′s album, “Blue.”
And that one big exception is “Both Sides Now,” which was on 1969′s album, “Clouds.” As familiar as it is – it didn’t chart for Ms. Mitchell, who wrote it – but it was a top-ten for Judy Collins, and covered countless times.
“Each day, at the end of a session,” Ms. Antonioli says, pianist Matt Clark “…and I did one or two takes to see if we could get something…we wanted to find a different approach to it.”
What came out of that experimentation is a gem – a moving rendition that’s more powerful than the original – wistful, full of reminisces and maybe a little regret.
You can’t sing it that way if you’re a kid. “It’s where I started,” Ms. Antonioli says. “It’s both a personal and generational thing.”
It wouldn’t be polite to speculate on Ms. Antonioli’s generation.
But this generation approves. Highly recommended.
Tracks added at 62ndStreet.com radio – “Both Sides Now,” and the opener, “People’s Parties.”
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While we’re on the subject of generations, I want to go back and revisit some earlier comments about Rachael Price and “Lake Street Dive.” They’ve been all over TV in recent months. I caught them on “Letterman,” but then went looking, and found them on “Ellen.”
I raved about them here, and then a couple of weeks ago, a work colleague caught them at Washington’s 930 Club. She says they were great, and couldn’t get over how many young fellas were standing around the stage, calling out Ms. Price’s name.
Wasn’t it Janis Joplin who complained about the dearth of male groupies?
I digress. The point is – that the following week, my pal Vic Doucette (We won’t speculate about his age, either – except to say he’s not a young fella) was raving about Ms. Price as she and the band visited the Detroit area.
And Vic brought back the picture, taken by his pal, Maggie McCabe.
Any group that can motivate the young fellas to stand around the stage, calling out the lead
singer’s name, and also have fans from Mr. Doucette’s generation (one with gray hair) is going places.