Emily Bezar — Exchange
(DemiVox DVX1000, 2008, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2008-10-01
With Exchange, California singer/songwriter/keyboardist Emily Bezar has produced her definitive (so far) musical statement. The elements that have contributed to her past releases (progressive rock, jazz, electronics, and her distinctive voice) are all present, fused organically into a heady brew of inventive, passionate, and fascinating sound. The jazzy horn arrangements that made Moon in Grenadine (1996) so much fun are taken even further, with the saxes, trumpet, and trombone given rein to improvise within the context of the songs; the proggy rhythms and keyboard sounds of Four Walls Bending (1999) mix freely with the horns, taking that album's style even further. The album's 10 tracks sprawl luxuriously (only one is under five minutes), and the extended lengths allow her time to develop some marvelous unpredictable digressions. A good example is the section of improvised violin over lush electronics that finishes "Winter Moon," capping the 11-minute track perfectly. And speaking of perfect endings, the set finishes with the title track, featuring just piano and voice and taking more from Post Romantic art songs than rock, jazz, or folk. Exchange is the portrait of an artist not so much evolving as becoming more herself. Listening to music is always a balance between the heart and the head. For those with musical training, even if it's only childhood piano lessons, there is enough knowledge to analyze what we hear. Music that touches both emotion and intellect is to me the best, and Exchange hits a sweet spot high on both scales.
Related artist(s): Emily Bezar
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