Laura Siersema's Talon of the Blackwater
By Ryan Duffy
Currently based out of Greenfield, singer/songwriter Laura Siersema offers her third album. According to her biography, she loved music as a child, attempted nursing school and dropped out, and fell back into music—not exactly the worst move, in her case. Siersema clearly has a lot to offer with her sonorous singing and her agile playing.
Many of the songs on this CD are not far removed from some of Kate Bush’s more subdued ‘80s output, which means flowing, ethereal vocals, murky, fretless bass, jazz piano, subtle synthesizers, some strings, drums and even bouncing marimba on one track. The record makes good use of silence and space at times, creating a fairly minimalist setting, circling and entrancing rather than forcing its way in.
Lyrically, the album uses cryptic poetry to evoke moods, rather than providing the listeners with cheap, cut-and-dried imagery. I liked this bit from “Along the Fenway,” the 13-minute closer:
I saw the future in somebody’s hand
They’re gonna steal a wallet
What does it matter when you’re in-between
the black sheep and the chosen one?
Or how about, from the title track:
Hurling shotgun shells at a wedding party
brother half-cocked at the pulpit
nausea always skimming just beneath
Not sure exactly what she’s alluding to, but anyone who can wield strong lyrical ability while avoiding pretension and tired clichés scores points with me.
Lead track “Mother Mary Rose” slowly floats along, buoyed by watery and delicate guitar work, but the vocals cut through the mix, creating a disembodied ambience. Siersema’s take on the traditional tune “Wade in the Water” is carried by clomping congas and is lit up like a jazzy old torch song.
Fans of Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell and even Leonard Cohen, albeit strictly on a lyrical basis, might feel at home with Siersema.