Kim vs. Jason (a dual review)
Guest writers, Jason Herring (of Jason Herring & the Mystery Plan) and Kim Irene Barker (of Sugarpump), do a tag team of sorts as they review each other’s albums this month.
Long Shadows (by Jason Herring & The Mystery Plan)
Review by: Kim Irene Barker (of Sugarpump)
A melancholy adventure with swelling landscapes narrates the third album, Long Shadows, by Jason Herring & The Mystery Plan. “Midnight Trail” begins the journey exactly as the title would lead one to believe - with it’s airy vocals and shyly in-your-face flute vamp. Layers of celestial lyrics sweetly haunt this well thought out, softly plugged in, organic composition. Most of the songs were penned underneath the moonlight Southern sky by native Charlotteans, Jason and Amy Herring. The tender instrumental track “Meadow” paints a picture of lovers swinging on an ethereal hammock pressed together yet innocent enough not to act upon an impulse; an orchestra of perfectly placed guitar, violin, and little birds. “Swingset”, title track “Long Shadows”, “She Paints With Dark Colors” and the whimsical “Happy Dizzy” continue to tell the story of woebegone joy. The conclusion of this rich pilgrimage ends in a surprisingly funky and intricate remix of “Midnight Trail Ride” by Vonfunkauser. Flautist Patty MacLaughlin, electric guitarists Charles Holloman, Royce Guin and Paul Jensen add unquestioned dimensions of superior humility throughout this dichotomously heart yearning and content record.
Hailing from both England and America, Sugarpump has not only brought back a sound that I have adored for years, the record, "Sugar Rush" also shows us where pop music could go. Tyrax V. Ventura and Kim "Sweet Irene" Barker met in France where she was recording. Before sessions and during breaks, Kim would go to a tea shopppe owned by Tyrax, and eventually they got around to talking about music. Soon thereafter, they were recording. Not long after the record was finished, the duo were approached to have a song in the film "Throw of a Dice" shot in London. You can also catch their videos on Indian music channels (Tyrax is Indian). The music...well the music has a distinct, fuzzy atmosphere, with haunting, pop hooks whirling all around the bass lines. The rhythms and guitars are driving, but the melodies are what get you. Full disclosure; I have known Kim for a good many years now. She even sings on a record of mine. But I have always been a sucker for her sweet, and sassy tones, while her intelligent and thoughtful lyrics invite you in. I am especially excited to hear her voice with the intense guitar and bass riffs on this album. Tyrax has a vocal style that is heavy in nature, but the hooks put that intensity floating in the clouds. Bottom line, whether you are out drinking with friends, driving on the Autobahn, or working out, this record will work. Once it starts, good luck trying to turn it off.
* Photograph of Jason Herring was taken by Kristen Coke.
* Photograph of Kim Irene Barker (of Sugarpump) was taken by Susanna Dobson.