Strawberry Moon by Amy Vachal
I’ve waited too long, baby
Until a few weeks ago, the only thing I knew about Amy Vachal was that she was a contestant on The Voice, a show I hate. Don’t be mad. I just think these singer contest shows on network television seek musicians who appeal to very large audiences, and if something appeals to the masses, it is most likely bland, unoriginal, boring, or crap. Am I wrong? It’s always struck me as ironic that judges on The Voice, like Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, and Cee-Lo Green, would probably have bombed on shows like this. They made their splash by being different from everyone else.
Geez. What an idiot I am. Vachal’s first full-length album, Strawberry Moon, dropped January 31, and it’s freaking terrific.
Putting down pictures when we were together
I’m falling like seasons
While Strawberry Moon is pop-flavored, this is no mainstream pop album. From the light, airy, lilting notes of opening track “Golden Boy,” you’re reminded of that girl who sat in the back row of your 11th grade history class, drawing all over her binder, her forearm, the desk, and her Chuck Taylors. You thought she was pretty in a trying-hard-not-to-look-pretty way that didn’t fool anyone, and you admired her but were afraid to talk to her because she seemed like she Knew Things.
My idiotic anti-The Voice bias had me expecting completely the wrong thing. It’s like when Lisa Germano, John Mellencamp’s violin player and always the most intriguing musician in his band, released her first solo album and it was creative, angsty, whispery, and potentially psycho and you were like holy cow where did that come from?
That was a long time ago. I’m old.
I am not too old, however, to be really taken by this album, mostly a blend of folk, alterna-pop, gospel, and something like clove cigarettes or lapsang souchong. The tunes are unique, not only in a gigantic field of solo singer-songwriters, but each among the ten others on the album.
Vachal apparently writes her own lyrics (it’s impossible anymore to find album credits if you don’t buy the physical CD, which I have done but it’s not here yet), and they’re the best thing about an album with no weaknesses.
Best album of the year so far.
Words in my skin and lips on a letter
Best song: “Taken”
Second-best songs: “Stones” and “Golden Boy”
Best lyric: “September took a turn on a highway west / whiskey and pie / held up a telephone to our lips / we’d kiss we’d fight / I was taken.” (“Taken”)
Second-best lyric: “I have seen gold / I have seen silver / I’ve been in love / I felt its fever / but give me the words / the ones that matter / I’m tearing out pages / I’m saying goodbye.” (“Stones”)
Best moment: Whatever that plucked string instrument is in the intro to “Honey” and throughout the song.
Second-best moment: The sound of a door, suitcase, or guitar case closing at the very end of “Stones.”
Song to make you text your ex (don’t do it!): “Strawberry Moon”
I can’t change where you are