CD REVIEW: Pale Boy
By Ben Ohmart - 05/21/2007 - 10:34 AM EDT
Artist: Band: Pale Boy
Genre: Alternative Folk/Pop
When the first musician listed on the cast of performers is a tuba player, you realize you're about to listen to something totally different. Pale Boy doesn't disappoint. The best way to describe them might be: alternative pop folk jazz. That should cover it. Everything's written - music and lyrics - by Seth Geltman. Arranged by Thomas Blomster. Thomas has his work cut out for him, as there are several guitars, horns, saxes, violin, and don't forget the typical band instruments. A lot to arrange.
Meantime, Seth lends his quiet vocals to the front of the store. Somehow, it's like James Taylor fronting a lazy Zappa band. Lazy in the sense that jazz incites 'Just a Thought' to action, not rock. 'How many times do you think each day about blue, about cats, about the letter K? Maybe I'm lost in a town I made out of dirt on a cloud over Hudson Bay.' Whatever Seth means, it's certainly poetic. And the female background harmonies from Jennifer Burnett's own set of lungs is reminiscent of a 1960s funeral, gathering all the clan up to the grave, not to scold or lament the deceased, but to help raise his spirit to heaven. Especially in short ditties like 'Shy Beast'.
'Chance of Showers' is a lovely orchestral instrumental that again might take you into Zappa land, if you drive down Yellow Shark territory. Lush arranging makes an enticing break to the vocal songs, and proves, if there were any doubt yet, that classical and jazz share the same coin. Nice of Pale Boy to give a flip occasionally.
This hour of plummeting, multi-genre material comes in 18 track containers, each with its own rhythm and reason. Take the strange beat pattern of 'Acrobat' It refuses to sit still. 'The acrobat is hanging off a cliff and getting pounding by the rain. The wind is tearing at him. It's the middle of the night. The crowd's long gone now, they tired of the spectacle of this gaudy little crackpot showing off with all his might.' That's right, if you want love songs, try the group down the street.
How this cd came about is an interesting bit of entertainment in itself. Part of the cd was financed from a teacher's salary (ha!); when that ran out, a grant was secured; when that dried up, a lucky(?) car crash pushed a fresh insurance check into the hands of those concerned, and zoom! Off to the disc makers. Thank goodness. Hard to classify pop music such as this needs to be heard. It broadens horizons, takes chances, it starts building much needed bridges between long-haired people and short hairs.
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