As I go into the 3rd phase of the Villain promo run, new reviews begin to trickle in. Here’s one from Anna Maria Stjärnell at Luna Kafe (Sweden). She is kind. And it’s no surprise that she praises my friend and beautiful duet partner Halie Loren, refering to “Hard to Believe” as “countryish in a sweet way” with “sharp words” that “contrast with the blue mood.”
I thank Anna from Sweden.
I don’t have much Swedish contact yet, but I am well aware of how friendly Swedish audiences have been to American music that isn’t commercially popular in the States (going all the way back to the great jazz artists like Roland Kirk.) I love Swedish film–Ingmar Bergman, Max Von Sydow, Liv Ullman, Girl with the Dragon Tatoo…
I’m glad I still qualify as a Northwest Musician, so I could be reviewed by a young man named Andrew Fickes of Northwest Indie Music.
Andrew says: “Villain” is hands down among the top 10 releases of 2011.”
Villain has been reviewed more than any I’ve released so far. Most of the reviews are kind, some glowing. None, so far, are blanket pannings. But I am truly glad that Andrew likes it, because he’s one of the few critics who pays deep attention to the story-writing. Most critics talk about the “sound.” They refer to content only in passing. And this, in some way, tips off the lack of time and attention lent to the material. Read more »
I love getting reviews from overseas in European languages, because the suspense lasts while I seek a translation into English.
Recently, a new online friend from Italy posted a review of Villain on his blog: Resto in Ascolto. Admittedly, I already know I’m in friendly territory here, ’cause we’ve communicated back and forth by personal e-mail, and he has said some nice things. But I am fascinated by the whole idea of language, dying to know how he describes my music to his fellow countrymen.
First, I scan the review in the original language, trying to decipher as best I can. (I took French for 5 years, and studied Old English, so there are some European words whose meaning I can guesstimate. I enjoy this linguistic exercise.) So far, I see the phrase “album dell’anno.” If this means “album of the year,” I’m going to faint. And when I wake up, I’m sending him flowers.
Read more »
Brad says it “chill(s) to the bone.”
You know you’re doing something right when you get compared to Elvis Costello. This from Tuneraker:
“If you are hankering for mid-period Elvis Costello with a fresh lick of paint then ‘Villain’ is the album for you… his brittle voice delivers cutting asides as astutely as Costello in his prime. Yet, like Costello, he can sound vulnerable and desperate the next moment.”
(Click above for the entire review.)
Rich Quinlan from Jersey Beat is one of those critics who obviously listens to an album several times before carefully penning a review. I’m grateful, ’cause the result was a very generous piece on Villain. I got some excerpts right here:
“…you will undoubtedly fall into the velvet embrace of John Shipe’s Villain… lush collection of highly descriptive tales of love and woe… There will be undoubted debate about which effort truly stands out.
‘Love Belong to Everyone’ is a warm, luxurious effort… The bouncy ‘Another Disaster’ and wrenching “No Use Crying Over a Spilt Life” make a tremendous one-two combination… John Hiatt and Jeff Buckley fans will instantly gravitate to this, particularly the witty and intelligent lyrical play of ‘What Right Do We Have to Fall in Love?’ and the powerful piano ballad ‘Dead Kite’. …atmospherically beautiful and harmonically sensual; a rich combination of musical dexterity and lyrical erudition. This is a striking record worthy of immediate attention.”
Click here for entire review.
Thanks Rich. Means a lot coming from such a fine music writer.
I just got a favorable review in the UK, written by Paul Kerr for Americana UK. A lucid review that proves he gave Yellow House an honest handful of listenings.
Two things stand out which please me: First, he cites the pop/rock song “Promises” as one of the better songs on the CD. Other reviews either ignored it, or mentioned it in passing as “stylistic meandering” that veers away from the tidy semi-acoustic stuff on the rest of CD.
Second, he describes the writing as “naive and innocent.” This sounds like a slight, but I think he meant it in a good way. Plus, I think of such naivete as kind of a writer’s victory. I had been honing the writer’s skill of making a distinction between author and the character who is speaking. Previously, some Shipe tunes would be saturated with too much awareness. I wanted the Yellow House characters to speak from specific points-of-view, limited to the experiences portrayed in each song, while broader and deeper meanings would go un-said. In other words: more story-telling, and less poetic, emotional philosophizing (Not to mention all the dark cynical impulses that accompany all that agonized deep-thinking.)
The paradox is just how much work it takes to become so “naive and innocent.” (In the same way that Picasso spent 60 years learning how to paint like a child.)