There is nothing I like more than an album with substance. Whether it be musical substance (some of the great Prog Rock of the 70's comes to mind...YES, ELP, JETHRO TULL) or lyrical substance (some of the great Folk singers of our time...BOB DYLAN, BRUCE COCKBURN, etc.), an album that is thought provoking always earns a place in my heart. Even better, is when you get an album that combines both elements... talent AND mentally stimulating lyrics...especially when tied together, creating a story.
Some of the best "concept albums" in the past thirty years, remain as relevant today, as they did when originally released. PINK FLOYD'S "THE WALL", nearly thirty years after it's initial release, still remains a prudent album. Why? Is it merely a fad that won't go away? I don't think so. I think music can be one of the most inspirational, thought provoking forms of art, IF done correctly.
One such case, is the album "HAUNTED", by POE (born Annie Danielewski). I had been a mild fan of Poe's first album, but it wasn't until discovering this album, shortly after it's October, 2000 release, that I truly fell in love with her music. This album is special in many ways. Musically, it's engaging, but mentally, it is one of the most interesting albums I have ever heard.
To fully appreciate what this album has to offer, you need to know it's background. Poe was raised in a military household, and spent most of her formative years moving around the world. She even spent part of her high school years, living in Provo, Utah... a mere hour's drive from where I live. Like most teens, Poe had a strained relationship with her father. Her parents had divorced, and her relationship with her father became more and more estranged.
After her father's death, she found a box of tapes that he had recorded. These tapes were narratives from her father, sometimes incorporating memories of Poe's childhood. Through these tapes, she was able to connect with her father in ways that she hadn't been able to do, while he was alive. In creating the album "HAUNTED", she took actual snippits of these tapes, and created a collage of memories, intermingled with original music, telling the story of her life...her relationship with her father... her rebellious years... her estrangement from her father...and the eventual healing and forgiveness of her father. Her story, located in the liner notes of the CD, is one of the most redeeming things I have ever found in Popular Alternative music.
In listening to this album, it will cause you to ponder your own relationships... with your parents, even your children.
The first track of the album is an answering machine message, where Poe calls her mother, to inform her of the passing of her father. From there, you are taken on an emotional journey, that doesn't end until the CD player becomes silent. The following is an audio clip from the album. This is the title track, "HAUNTED", which is the first actual song on the album....
It must also be noted that shortly after the initial release of the CD, Poe's brother, Mark Z. Danielewski, released a book, which ended up being a companion piece to this wonderful album. So much, that the album was actually reissued with a remix of one of the album cuts, with brother Mark reciting some spoken words, taken directly from his book. The two even toured together. If you haven't heard this album, I recommend it to everyone. Even if you aren't in love with the music, the story of estranged love, and it's eventual redemption, is worth the listen...