CD Review

Creeping Myrtle - "Ode to the Urchin"

By Mike Ventarola

Ode to the UrchinCreeping Myrtle manages to convey many moods through this outing, Ode To The Urchin, without having to encumber the music with hi -tech fabrications. The majority of cuts on this disc are not the type that will rouse you from slumber, but in fact will pull you into a reverie of some contemplation. The sounds inherent on this work make a nice accompaniment for an overcast day where one can just settle indoors on a fluffy down pillow as many tensions ebb away. The band has since reformed with a quietly handsome Randal Prater at the helm, whose dedication to sincerity, introspection and quality may often go unnoticed by those more interested in the latest dance tune.

Acidophilus is a shoe gazer type of rock groove that intermittently juxtaposes itself with tempered measures of beat. Randal delivers the verse, "I love the way your eyes tell lies, a tragic comedy delight, spread your sunshine. Spare me your rhetoric, just tell me where the fun is." in a very laid back vocal style reminiscent of the beat days in the coffee houses of Greenwich Village during the sixties. Despite the laid back quality of the vocals throughout the recording, we sense the rumination of the vocalist. Mab bends and twists in a psychedelic fashion, again reminiscent of the sixties where songs were twisted to enhance an altered mind experience. Sunnyside with gently strumming guitars in a folk rock fashion leads us down a path of ambiguity. It is a private place Randal only knows and will only give us a glimpse at.

Ketura is a wanderlust song of unrequited love that causes one to compose tomes of deification for the object of our desire. Ironically, despite the lyrical content that is passionate and hopeful, the sound has a darker rhythm to it than the previous tracks. This in some ways can be indicative of one who knows this would be a good love to obtain, yet deep down understands it can never be, as indicated in the lines, "I'll sing a lonely chorus, and dream alone and sigh. I'll cross the world for your love." Step In The Sun is another song of longing and searching for the simple type of love that will usher the sigh from our lips in sheer delight. It is a love that remains forever elusive as we search the skies for some sign that the indication of its arrival is within our grasp. Randal delivers this in a softly sung rendition, effectively coloring the song to indicate that the search has been long and unrelenting. The ending instrumentation picks up the pace, showing miles of travel must be endured before this becomes a reality, if ever it does.

A Good Mope reconstructs those periods when we want to be anonymous for a brief bit of time. However there are times when things cleave to the psyche causing over wrought cogitation and we have to agree with the lyrics, "All I wanted was a good place to hide. To have a good mope and then I'd be alright. It's too late this time, doldrums are here." Valentine is quite open to many interpretations dependent upon which angle one wishes to view it. On one level, we have a tune related to yet again unrequited love, "I waited a long, long time for her valentine, but it never came." We then hear in the background subtle blood curdling screams followed by, "But, then there's Clementine and trouble on my mind," and a sinister spoken part, "Bet you're on the phone soon Clementine, we're fools," which follows with, "Took you around the neck and then I'd please you, you little fool. Bet your life you can't fall," which leads one to assume that there is a murder taking place either physically or mentally.

Of What May Be initially has an early Beatles feel to it that depicts shy love. An almost orgasmic female cry can be heard distantly in the background while Randal serenades, "Come kiss me sweetly and love me evermore, our love is too shy. Rely on all that is backwards and fall with assurance." Flimsy depicts concern of another who is too blind to realize the consequence of foolish actions, "The lonely face I see, turns to face the cold, you'll catch your death, you'll see, you say no way. Embrace the flames alone." The Shy Reserve initially plays in an indolent fashion reminding us of the slow progression of time which, when looked at from a total perspective, is quite fleeting. It is often observed how quickly light removes the essence of time, yet upon its burgeoning we must seek the removal of ourselves from our contentment in order to preserve that essence which holds us together. "I follow shadows through nights of my splendor. Things that I saw when I was in the light, they draw lines on my shadow in the peace of the night, in the shy reserve." This movement is further enhanced with the pacing that picks up as the song progresses.

The Nether Reaches Of Florid Dandyism regards the malleability of fads that can make one an overnight sensation and make everything nefarious totally accessible. This game of fleeting sensations is clearly identified and sung in a way that is indicative of one who is cynically apathetic to this reality. Departure Never Leaves is an odd love ballad that once again challenges us to view it on many levels. In one way it reminds this reviewer of a child having a final communion with someone dear to them. "The fever burns you up inside like friendly fire. It's been a while since paranormal love was dry and free. From fate and endless time, the sunshine blinds your dry lipped smile." On another level, it is a memory of longing and bitterness "This lonely apparition aches and mourns the death of love undone. The stars are cold and uninviting and they suck the sound away."

Creeping Myrtle establishes themselves as paragons to the understated conveyance of numerous interpretations in this body of work. Lyrically, a built in ambiguity has been created to allow the listener to develop their own images and meanings. This is gentle music for the most part where much of the meanderings of our artists can get lost if focused attention is not provided. The laid back style of singing delves into the reaches of one who is alone and lost in their own thoughts and we, the listeners, are voyeurs along for the excursion. Ode To The Urchin is a textual discourse to that little imp that resides in all of us. It is only during our twilight moments, when we are alone with our thoughts, that we are able to fully realize this shadow image.

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