Here's the thing, you can't define this music, it has no clean cut genre, but hell that doesn't really matter. Interesting note here, I used iTunes to listen to this and it lists a Blues/R&B genre to the CD.
The first cut, Meet In The Streets, has a good beat and you could leave it at that, but the lyrics, gawd, you have to soak these lyrics. I find it speaks to the mundane and sameness we all tend to share, the never quite perfectness that sometimes takes on a life all to itself. Getting by the strangeness of the lyrics, as you begin to enjoy it, the words suddenly slap you up the side of the head with, "she's singing about life!" realizations. I noticed different guitarist on the CD. One of them must have a thing for latter day King Crimson, ala Robert Fripp/Adrain Belew. It just bubbles up, that wild instrumentalist.
On the second cut, Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed, Mongrel drops down to a weepy, blues, almost folk-like tirade about jilted love. It's not the cut and dried bitching of Alanis Morrisette though. It's more like something you'd hear on the radio, late night in a hotel room, in some remote location in Scotland. That's the folksy part. For what she's saying, it gets the feelings across. It's just too depressing. I suppose jilted women will love it. I find myself wanting to yell at the song, "damn, get over it!" On the third song, you get yanked out of the apathy chair with, Five Years Ago. More of the luxurious Fripp/Belew-like guitar. Lyrics pull you in, but I'm puzzled by the words.
Each cut seems to have its own flavor, switching tempo and instrument, falling out of the genre the last song was being wedged into within your mind. Such is Don't Call It Too Late. Decidedly Latin flavor, with a slow beat, Mongrel lays out the lyrics from a medium voice down to a raspy whisper. This CD contains surprises, taken together the first time, it grates on your nerves. After 3 or 4 times, I was excited enough to read the lyrics. That's when it knocks the breath out of you. It's so damn vibrant and alive!
Circle The Wagons. Grand Ole Opry this ain't, but Mongrel wails and it's almost 1965 at my grandparents home in Nashville, watching some new singer debut on the Porter Waggoner show. The guitar work is slow and purposeful, the percussion is intentionally off beat, almost alternative in its funkiness. More lyrics of having her heart ripped out, but it's good.
Quicksand Passion. I approached this cut and some of the following with suspicion. Having grown up in the Mississippi River Delta and being a follower of that Blues, thar ain't no other! This cut gets it with funky harmonica, passionate lyrics with a upbeat tune about voracious sex and I catch a hint in Mongrel's voice that reminds me of a blues band from the early 1970's out of LA. Zephyr. She screams and sings a lot like that bands' singer, Candy Givens. This is a compliment.
Livin' The Blues. It's hard as hell to be a white woman and mimic a black blues singer. I appreciate Mongrel trying, but as a black friend once pointed out, "y'all just ain't never really lived it". The song has an interesting bit of percussion, it starts out with dragging and dropping lumber on concrete, sliding it together, then dropping a bunch of tinker toys on top of it. Sawing wood noises too. A sawmill? Sweaty men working chain gang style? Interesting.
Next Time You Wake Up is a fast R&B "goodbye honey" tune. The background sound track of hoots and howls, water pouring, almost hide the fact that Mongrel has your attention, has assembled this music and you are caught up in it. Bizarre guitar work.
Thank You is a depression soak, like the imaginative wading through waist deep molasses as Mongrel thanks her former lover for being an ass and treating her bad because she has found nirvana in her new man. It's all very simplistic, the overtones and plots of the music, however the vocals and the musicians weave it differently enough to make the fabric seem fresh. It leads you to relax and feel immersed in a stylistic dream.
The luxurious cut, Miss Roweena, is an "ahhhhhh" after all the depression. Latin guitar, sweet vocals. It's very beautiful and haunting.
Momentarily lost in the floating, Papa Legba drives you more in the Latin quarter. Supposedly inspired by New Orleans Voodoo Tarot, there is a magic here. You have to listen a lot, but it's there.
Ode To A Cowboy, (written by Dave and Iola Brubeck), is a bluesy childrens' lullaby. It mixes in startlingly easy.
Max The Circus Cat. Gawd is this a storybook time or what? Sort of a narration mixed with a deranged calling of Max the Cat, "here kitty, kitty, kitty," that would make most any cat run for the hills or that deep pocket under the sofa, "no way am I going to come to that call" craziness. I think I get it here. I've heard that voice before for a cat lover friend, it is a sort of thing I suppose everyone has, one friend who is crazy and talks crazy and has some poor pet captive to talk out their designs too. Maybe I'm way off the mark
Freedom the longest cut on the CD is a conglomeration of hopes and dreams of the world, spoken in different voices and tones, very well woven together. It's easy to sing, wonderful to imagine, hard to comprehend and overwhelmingly depressing in the scope of what it covers.
Lucy Mongrel, you have cried and screamed and protested on the most basic levels of human situation, on the need to be loved and worshiped. You cried and plotted revenge against your tormentors, idled away time in the sun, mixed my mind in a thousand different ways and left me on the altar of pump organs and country churches, deep in the warm, humid delta. When I first listened to this I thought, hmmm sounds like Michelle Shocked or maybe Laurie Anderson, several listens and I'm thinking Emmylou Harris has dropped acid! Finally though, I can lay it aside and say Lucy Mongrel, creating her own style.