Poseidon and the Bitter Bug
April 30, 2009

The first song I heard by Indigo Girls was, like most folks my age, "Closer to Fine." And I have to say, I really, really liked it. It was infectious, it was fun ... and unlike a lot of "pop" music, it asked you to think a bit, too. While the music, the beat, the progression of notes all can sweep me away, the music that I enjoy the most is music that makes me both feel and think. Every Indigo Girls album from Strange Fire all the way through Poseidon and the Bitter Bug has more songs which make me think & feel than songs that don't. The fact that I have always enjoyed the way Amy and Emily's voices blend and the type of music they coax from their guitars, mandolins and even the banjo (and we all know how much I adore the banjo) ... and the way that they've grown as musicians, adding drums, orchestra (and even *gasp* electric guitars at times) have always remained amazing to me.

There are bands that I once loved, but which grew in a different direction than I did. Best example is U2 - I haven't liked anything they've done since Rattle & Hum - and I adored pretty much everything they'd done up to that point. There's nothing wrong with the music they've done since then, I certainly don't think they're a horrible band now or anything. But I adored the musical direction they took in Rattle & Hum and simply haven't been as interested in their direction since then.

REM is another band where I had to have everything they'd done once I discovered them ... but somewhere around Monster, I stopped buying CDs. I'm not sure why, but the intense connection I'd once had with their music just ... faded.

Indigo Girls, on the other hand, have grown as I've grown and apparently we're still growing in similar directions. I admit, I was frustrated with their frustrations with a big name label and I enjoyed the risks they took in their music and their ever-evolving sound (which nonetheless always remained uniquely identifiable as Indigo Girls) and worried that the record label would try to force them to make only clones of "Closer to Fine." So, I was very curious to see what would happen once they broke away from the big label.

Poseidon and the Bitter Bug came out a month ago and somehow I managed to not notice that until this past week. Interestingly enough, they released a double set - one disc as a "studio" album and the other as an acoustic album.

I find it interesting that the first review I read of the CD complained about the "over-production" of some of their previous albums - I assume the reviewer was thinking of Swamp Ophelia, for example. For me, I found the progression from Strange Fire (their first CD) through Poseidon and the Bitter Bug to be one of constantly growing musically. No album was some odd re-invention of what it meant to be Indigo Girls, but instead was an outgrowth of what had gone before. I found it interesting when their music took on new depth with new arrangements and new instruments added to the mix. This reviewer (I'm afraid I didn't save the link, sorry) enjoyed the acoustic version of the album more than the "studio" version.

And here's where I think Amy & Emily were simply brilliant in releasing this dual album. There are plenty of fans who prefer the simplicity of two voices and a couple of acoustic instruments. A kind of campfire, back to the roots movement. There are some folks who are sick to death of a voice and guitar and that's all there is. I don't quite fall into either category (shocker, I know). But I think it was brilliant of Indigo Girls to both continue to explore their music the way they want to - and to also give that segment of acoustic fans who've been with them since the Uptown Lounge (and earlier!) what they loved in the first place.

As for specific songs, once again, I'm going to have to listen to the whole CD in a place where I can concentrate and read the lyrics along with them. They always make me think. I have yet to get an album of theirs where I don't want to sit with the lyrics and get lost in the music and what they're saying (both lyrically and musically) - this CD is no different in that regard.

From my superficial listen at work yesterday, the songs that have particularly caught my attention are "Sugar Tongue," which wasn't at all what I expected - though I expect that to change again when I can really listen with the lyrics - "I'll Change," "Ghost of the Gang" and most especially, "True Romantic."

Let me tell you, I thought on first listen that Amy had actually swiped Radiohead's "Creep" with "True Romantic." And I'm not the only one who's made that connection. However, when I listened to "Creep" and "True Romantic" back to back - they're not the same song at all. (And, to be honest, I'd be beyond SHOCKED if either of the Indigo Girls actually swiped a song. It's just not who they are.) What amazes me is that as much as I adore "Creep," I think that "True Romantic" goes even further - it's an even better song. I would guess that it's a kind of riff off of "Creep," kind of an extension of it. Of course, I still need to sit down with the lyrics and really study it.

The weird thing, though, is that I have this odd tendency to hear lyrics that are not there. For example, in "Sounds of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel, I can clearly "hear" a space in that song for the words "fuck you." The words are not there, I'm not physically hearing them, don't worry. But I can hear the intention of them. I've done this a few times with Indigo Girls songs as well, including some alternate lyrics to "touch me fall" that are rather ... umm ... racy. (And then I found out that there were some alternate, private lyrics to that song that were rather close to what I "heard.") For "True Romantic" I keep hearing "True Believer." Dunno why, I've got to make some time to listen to this CD more carefully!!

At any rate, I think the CD is well worth the money and I love the fact that they added an Acoustic Sessions disc as well.

I fully expect this CD, like all of their others, to grow on me the more I listen to it. And I'm constantly amazed at how they grow as people, as lyricists, as musicians - and that we seem to be growing in the same directions.

And now, I'm late for work ....

Posted by Red Monkey at April 30, 2009 5:05 AM | Blog | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Momo Fali said:

I can't wait for a chance to listen.

April 30, 2009 5:44 PM
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