By: Sarah Moore
Somehow we have gotten into our heads that an album without at least ten tracks rips the listener off, but not in this instance. David Vandervelde's eight-track album, The Moonstation House Band (Secretly Canadian), is a smorgasbord of pop, rock and roll, classical, and musical theatre that shifts from one set of influences to another, seemingly without logical transitions.
One of Secretly Canadian's latest signings, Vandervelde has a voice that sounds like a mixture between George Harrison and Rush's Geddy Lee. From one track to the next, Moonstation switches gears from an extended musical theater monologue on "Corduroy Blues" to the Beatles pop (think McCartney's flow on "Come and Get It") of "Wisdom From A Tree." Standout single "Nothin' No" begins the disc on a high, heavy note, painting summer word pictures with no obligations freedom. A sitar sound makes it more psychedelic and unusual, but Vandervelde did not use the Near Eastern instrument.
The disc is almost entirely played and written by Vandervelde, with the exceptions of drums and bass on a couple tracks as well as tack piano on "Jacket," which gives the album a very personal, DIY (not bedroom, though) feel. The slew of instruments he utilizes includes bells, tape machines, Hammond organ, synths and Fender Rhodes to make his generally upbeat sound. While "Murder in Michigan," an outstanding ballad, makes use of honey sweet harmonies, the dark subject matter (killing one's female love) belies the light and layered music. The line, "Oh, my black-eyed Suzanne," recalls the classic bluegrass tune "Black-Eyed Susie." The subsequent "Moonlight Instrumental," sounds like a continuation of "Murder" as the album closes. Vandervelde evokes a string section sweeping behind a stark organ until the climax recalls the scattered section of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life." Is the section as genius an extended and atonal orchestral crescendo? "Moonlight" has less gusto and breaks off into a more serene ending to an already packed disc.
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