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CD REVIEW: Andrew Wagner - thank you, but our princess is in another castle
By Eliot Popkin - 01/23/2002 - 05:17 PM EST

Artist: Andrew Wagner
Album: thank you- but our princess is in another castle
CD Review: Funny that the first sentence in the promotion letter sent to me says "Make no mistake about it. This is not a folk record." Yes it is. And a real nice one at that. Man oh man can this guy play guitar! As if his fine chops wouldn't be obvious throughtout the disc, the album opens with the instrumental "the archduke descends upon me." Following this opener is the folky "mating song of the north american dork" in which Wagner sings "puzzle math, play it intricate, take the shortest path if the algorithm fits this amorous synthesis, the sweet symmetry of this." While it may seem a bit verbose, it also seems to fit his playing. These aren't those standard 3 minute pop songs you'd hear on the radio. This is folk music folks, and what I enjoy so much about this is that each song is it's own puzzle. With each listen you can hear a bit more, understand a bit more, and conjure up your own images of the stories in each song.

I find I ask the same questions in Wagner's music as I have many times in listening to Tori Amos. Is Wagner being puzzling simply to be puzzling or is it really cool? I have derived the same conclusion as I did with Tori, I just don't know. Often when hearing a guitar/vocal album one hears other instruments and how they can complement the music. With Wagner's playing, you don't really miss other instruments, his playing really complements his compositions and leaves you feeling satisfied sans rhythm section. My favorite listen here is the contemplative sounds of "coriolis waters, spiral stairs." This being one of the 3 instrumental tunes on the CD, one feels the full journey on this tune - a beginning, middle and end through a wonderful song cycle. Throughout this disc, his playing is of expert level, and his voice is inquisitive and vulnerable. Overall, this is definitely interesting stuff to listen to.

Contact: Megan Wendell, and

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