Category: Music reviews

In the Shadow of the Past: John Legend, Once Again

The themes of John Stephens’s songs are variations on romance, and the songs resist cliché to the extent that they are imaginative or realistic, as the need (or case) may be. The collection’s first song—in which the singer asks someone…

Troubadour: Eric Bibb’s A Ship Called Love

Beauty is not always simple, and brilliance and excellence are not simple. The relationship of one kind of ethic to another—for instance, an ethic founded in reason, science and civil liberties versus a religious ethic—is not simple. By Daniel Garrett…

Images of Women: Beyonce’s B’Day

Beyonce, like Diana Ross before her, knows of the many women performers who have preceded her own arrival on the public stage, and has offered compliments to them: and Beyonce is trying to place herself in a flattering locale within…

The Ordinary Lives of Intelligent People: Belle and Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister

Boredom and pleasure and violence seem the boundaries of the experiences described in several songs. A girl in “If You’re Feeling Sinister” is described thusly: “She was into S&M and bible studies.” (It is to laugh—or weep: the contradictions are less immoral than merely telling: and they tell of contradictory human impulses so strong that each aspect cannot destroy the other but may reinforce somehow the other.)

Fresh Vision, New Sounds: Bright Eyes’ Digital Ash in a Digital Urn

Does one affirm, then move toward, truth over lie, love over hate, and life over death? (How to make these—and other—choices dynamic, vivid? Present them in art—in books, dance, film, music, painting, and theater. How to emphasize that dualities such as life and death are deeply bound? Explore philosophy.)