Thursday, February 27, 2014

More Like Nightmare (Music Review: Karen Oberlin, A Wish)

I love duet albums: voice and piano, voice and guitar, voice and voice, and any other permutations out there. I had some hope for "A Wish," the new album by Karen Oberlin with Sean Harkin on guitar. Even though none of Ms. Oberlin's previous albums have caught my fancy, I was still hopeful. Sad to say, I was far from besotted by this new effort. Paired with a nondescript voice, Oberlin doesn't really have fine lyric interpretative skills. I get bored by her renditions quickly, and it's not helped by her pitch problems. Chestnuts like "Remind Me," and "my One And Only Love" have the spark of an American Idol contestant's version. I must say that Oberlin has a good eclectic taste in her song selection. Billy Strayhorn's "no One Knows" and Fred Hersch's "Do You Think This Happens Every Day" are fine dine songs but these are forgettable versions, and she even ventures into pop sides, and Paul Simon's "Train In The Distance" could have been an inspired choice under another singer's hands. I don't want to be too negative, but the only really nice thing I could say is that the album cover is a beautiful sepia photograph, and Ms. Oberlan herself is a stunnign woman. But I resally don't want to be shallow.

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