CD Review

The New York Room – “Courtesan”

By Marcus Pan

CourtesanMatthew Ervin's The New York Room (who are actually based in Michigan) provide a loving yet melancholy piece of music in the form of Courtesan. The lyrical content is deep and poetic and the background movements are slow and brooding building a definite feeling of loss. It's quite minimal at times, noticeably so from the start with I Wear Your Ring, and can slow down to a near crawl, but will pick up again as Courtesan moves along.

Baby Blue has a brighter appeal to it, but the female voice still retains a sorrowful edge to it that splice nicely against the lightly strumming guitar and brighter synth chords. Chasing the Horizon's female harmonies are brilliant. While the track's plodding nature can drag things down, it's these girls' voices that keep it from getting stuck in the mud. Cuts Through the Skin, a favorite, ups the heavy just a tad with harder guitar/bass hits and a voice extremely reminiscent of Lucy Mongrel(1).

Floatful + Remembering brightens up a bit and becomes a point of light in darker territory and The Thistle in the Kiss takes us back into brooding territory. There's a lot of wonderfully sung ballads throughout Courtesan: Frost at Midnight which reminds me of Seven 13(2) is one fine piece and the slow moving Inside the Dream treads on folk guitar territory. The New York Room's strength comes from the vocalists, brilliant in just about all endeavors on Courtesan. And the second part of this strength comes from Mathew Ervin's ability to write music that supports and accompanies the female voice without ever challenging it for the spotlight. One or the other alone wouldn't be nearly as refreshing.

The traditional interumental remake of Dies Irae doesn't hold my interest with its slow moving ramble and tympani breaks. Similarly the also instrumental Gymnopedie: 1 is a nice track, very smooth, but somehow I feel I've heard it before even if I can't place exactly where. A strange dark deja-vu, really. Courtesan does however close on a nicely remixed I Wear Your Ring.

The New York Room combine elements of folk, minimal ambient and sorrowful female vocals to really set a darker mood while not becoming suicidal. A nighttime sky with a few stars present, points of light pierce the occasional gloom of this otherwise sad record. Sometimes it's nice to sit back and let something like Courtesan wash over you and in the end take away your own morbid feelings with it. Closing your eyes you can be transported to a haunting yet somehow soothing place. Very therapeutic, very well made and craftily concocted. Now that I have The New York Room I'm going to dump my therapist tomorrow.

Contact Information:
The New York Room
Post: PO Box 282, Oshtemo, MI, 49077, USA
(1) Her self-titled release was reviewed in Legends #111.
(2) Their CD, Unleashed, was reviewed in Legends #129.

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