CD REVIEW: Kim Lamothe - Mystery of Viburnum
By Cyrus Rhodes - 12/15/2010 - 12:18 AM EST
Artist: Kim Lamothe
Album: Mystery of Viburnum
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Art-Rock, Progressive Rock, Rock
Sounds Like: Jewel, Fiona Apple, & early Melissa Etheredge
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 7/10
Performance Skill: 7/10
Best Songs: Rocky’s, Diesel Dad, Time-lapse
Weakness: Winded songs, Respective vocal delivery, lukewarm vocal persona
Singer, songwriter Kim Lamothe just released her latest CD entitled Mystery of Viburnum in 2010. She sings & plays ukulele & acoustic guitar & brings an impressive 4 piece line up to the table which includes Eric Hastings (drums) Brendan Whipple (Upright Bass) Michael Samos (Lapsteel) & George Hazelrigg (Hammond Organ) Lamothe hails from Providence Rhode Island.
Logging in at just over 52 minutes the CD kicks things off with sonic into piece “Last Dime” set against delicate raindrops eventually lending itself to Track 2:”8A”: a vibrant intro piece that serves up driving rock rhythm against bluesy rock guitar accents, with well placed vocal accents from LaMothe. Track 3 “Mystery of Viburnum” serves up a grooving jazz/blues ditty, against rock solid rhythm section & impressive Hammond Organ chops making for an impressive psychedelic-rock groove. Track 4 “Red” shifts gears a bit with it’s slow moving acoustic vibe eventually lending itself too an impressive musical ballad combining the perfect balance of alternative rock, blues & even folk. The CD gets off the ground solidly serving up 3 compelling tracks in a row. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical textures reminiscent of classic acts as such as Jewel, Fiona Apple, & early Melissa Etheredge. The music itself combines classic elements of bluesy-rock with an aftertaste of R&B, Jazz, Folk & even Psychedelic 70's rock to Alternative Rock. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly world class & even Jam Band in it's delivery. I especially like all the low end rock grooves presented on each of the songs. Kudos goes out to Eric Hastings (drums) for sitting pretty in the pocket & pushing the natural accents extremely well. You will also notice lush layers musical instrumentation layered everywhere served up hot via the solid low-end rhythm backbone. The CD has some truly impressive moments on it showcasing impressive playing, musicianship, & world class instrumentation via a fascinating vocal delivery from Lamothe. Zeroing in now on Lamothe’s vocal style - rather unique & fluid in its overall flow & ebb delivery. It goes down smooth but has a classic raspy jagged edge, reminiscent of such singers Bonnie Rait, Wynona Judd, Melissa Etheredge with even a dash of Janis Joplin. From compelling “Packhorse” to foreboding “Diesel Dad” to slow slithering “Rocky’s” to rocking “Ginger/peach” & “Looped” to slow grooving “ Bloom” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “You are my “Sunshine” the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.
It’s fair to say Lamothe needs to come out of her shell a bit more with respect to her vocal expression, abilities, persona & overall musical flair & personality. Rather than take risks Lamothe tends to play it safe on this catalog - avoiding any serious risks that would indicate to me a strong & confident vocal ability. Her vocal style tends to be rather one sided & repetitive in nature as well. It’s fair to say Lamothe misses the mark in making the critical (singer to listener) connection. Emotions from Lamothe seem to be way too choreographed. Real emotions are beyond control behind the glass. Also absent are a lack of vocal harmonies, either by other band members or by Lamothe. This would have taken the edge of her repetitive vocal delivery. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to finish line. I fully realize this is a subjective art form, but after spending 52 minutes alone with Lamothe it’s as clear as mud who she is as an artist to me. If this review seems lopsided it merely reflects some of the extremes presented on Mystery of Viburnum..
From start to finish Mystery of Viburnum is a compelling musical catalog from Kim Lamothe & company. The writing & playing abilities of her band are as good as they get within the genera. Kudos goes out to the band, Lamothe should feel lucky having them back her up. All songs, melodies & lyrical content are clever, compelling & fascinating in their overall delivery. Overall this catalogue of music offers up several brilliant flashes of artistic brilliance from Lamothe – indicating to me extreme potential & promise for the future. Like the aforementioned I really enjoyed some of the low end blues/rock grooves presented on the CD. Also impressive is the wide range of genres this catalog touches. Last but not least the vocal presence of LaMothe provides an fascinating snapshot of who she is as a budding artist. Perhaps Lamothe is a work in progress – like so many other artists out there who are attempting to discover who they through their music & their performances. As a fan – this can be an amazing evolutionary process to observe over time. Having said this - it doesn’t necessarily mean this CD is bad by any stretch of the imagination. It merely means Kim Lamothe's best music is more than likely yet to come.
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