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Shmat's Reviews
For more reviews, please visit Palebear which is where all future Shmat reviews will appear (as of March 2006).

Kathy Fleischmann
Unresolved (CD)

Meow. Once again the kittycats get to the Shmat. So much so that he feels compelled to write about a CD that he might otherwise have put aside in the kittykorner home of non-reviewable discs. Kathy Fleischmann's CD, Unresolved, has shmats galore on the CD face and the insert which surely got his attention (hello, Aretha the shmat!). But just wait a shmatty minute. Sure, the music is often fairly standard coffeemousey country folk, but that doesn't mean there isn't any good stuff here at all.

Fleischmann (no relation to the margarine) sounds a bit at times like Joni Mitchell with a slight nasal inflection and on other songs she ventures into vocal territory that Natalie Merchant should have explored when she went solo. One of the Shmat's favorite tunes was "5 O'Clock Shadow", a really beautiful folk ballad that plays out like the theme music for a very sad movie, like maybe Terms of Endearment? Oops, maybe that is a bad example. The much bouncier "14th Floor" is very Joni-ish, sort of "Ladies of the Canyon". These two distinct styles are where Fleischmann excels in presenting the listener with quite a bit to latch onto. Indeed, the songs are very sticky and the Shmat ain't talking about glue here. The Shmat was less into the parts of certain songs like "Iowa" and "Spinning" where blues guitar riffs sometimes rear their unwieldly shadows, although he must admit that the little solos were less annoying than some similar CDs he has received. And anyhow, those siamese twins of blues and folk form a genre combo that often refuse all attempts at separation.

The Shmat thought that "Bluer than Chicago" was a really great song as well, the long drawn out lines of simile mixing well with simple acoustic guitar picking. The same goes for "Lyrics to a Song" and "Closure" which are beautifully sung, genuine in feeling, and uncomplicated in approach.

As far as indie poprock comparisons go, the Shmat likens some of her stuff to Tarnation, Edith Frost, Lori Carson, and a teeny bit of Neko Case. This must be a pretty decent disc for the Shmat to review since it's not his usual cup of tea. Ergo, it will probably be appreciated even more highly the farther that a listener's ears tilt toward the mainstream. To sum up: like summer harvest preserves, these songs sit quite cozily in this memory jar of music and are there for the taking whenever you'd like to make a nice audio equivalent of jam on toast and warm tea.

- review by SHMAT (12.28.03)        

Kathy Fleischmann

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