June 22, 2003

Jen Turrell "One Night The Stars Began To Fall And would Not Stop"

I was pleasantly surprised with One Night The Stars Began to Fall and Would Not Stop. In the past Jen Turrell, who runs Red Square Records, formerly of Rabbit in Red and currently in Boyracer, has released songs that I like to refer to as "sweetie rock"--soft, sensitive and sad folkie music that makes you go "awww, sweetie, what's the matter?" Of course, I shoulda known that she was far from a folkie when she graffitied a club wall with a dangerously evil looking daisy--with the cutest fangs you've ever seen--and labelled "death to hippies!" (I have a picture of this somewhere, it's the cutest punk-rock statement I've ever seen.)

Well, after years of only releasing two or three songs here and there, on various EP's, cassette singles, and split releases, Turrell has finally released her proper debut solo album. If you liked her previous band, Rabbit in Red, or her solo work, you won't be terribly disappointed with One Night.... If you miss her punk-rock singing from either Rabbit in Red or Boyracer, or if you loved the hug-me folkie stuff, you certainly won't be disappointed, but if you don't care for the folkier-style she's often recorded by herself, you'll certainly be pleasantly surprised.

If there's one great influence on One Night, it's her husband, Boyracer leader and 555 Records owner Stewart Anderson. Turrell's album owes more than a great deal to Anderson's other major project, the lo-fi electronica Steward. With Steward, he'd mold sensitve, sad songs over interesting electronic bleeps, blips, noises and found sound. One Night isn't Steward Part Two, though naturally many of the ideas are certainly the same...but let's not dive into a semantic argument, okay? We're not talking about a whole Hole/Nirvana thing here, mind you. Turrell's nicer, Stewart's a bit more together, and they actually love each other. (Indie-pop Wings? There have been worse things.)

The album is a heady mixture of the soft, the sad, the happy, and the upbeat--and it never lasts from song to song. Just when you're feelin' blue on "Escape," Turrell turns up the rock on "Reindeer Games." Just as you've started to cut a rug in your bedroom during "Proposal," she gets all introspective and slow on "Hope," but as you're startin' to get teary in your lonely bedroom, up come the beats in "Go to Portland." Turrell never sits still, and that's great. The album flies by--fifteen songs in thirty minutes--and that's perhaps my one complaint. I'd love to hear some of the songs expanded on or maybe drawn out a little. It's a beat-driven folk record but it's also a folk-driven beat record, and I like that it never really sits still. My favorites are the closing "Oranges" and the six minute epic "Meteor Shower," which are moody, a little sad, and a lot of pretty.

All in all, I can't complain about One Night The Stars Began to Fall and Would Not Stop. It's not really what I expected, and when you get what you don't expect--and when that's better than your expectations--that makes everything even better. Turrell, like her hubby and their band and label, never sit still for one second, so who knows what she'll sound like next album. Bet it'll be interesting, and I'm sure it will be just as good!

--Joseph Kyle

No comments: