Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The David Wax Museum's CARPENTER BIRD

The David Wax Museum, a Mexo-Americana folk band from Somerville, is releasing their first full-length album titled Carpenter Bird on September 18 at Club Passim in Cambridge. It's no surprise the band chose the well-known Cambridge folk venue for its release considering the profound mark they've made on the local music scene over the last year--particularly with the crowds at Passim. Tickets have sold so fast that the venue decided to create a second show for the release, selling tickets for both 7 and 10 P.M. slots.

Led by multi-instrumentalist David Wax, the folk group consists of five musicians who play various instruments (including a few Mexican guitars) and sing in often echoed call-and-response form. Carpenter Bird is void of technical studio embellishment; the details of the album are incorporated amongst the numerous instruments played and the complexity of the songwriting.

The opening track, "Jalopy Heart," is about an emotionally worn person still looking for love. With lines like, "What could you want with my antique-music-box voice?" the male and female vocalists question whether love is still an option. Instrumentally, the track features mandolin and piano parts that stream in and out between verse and chorus.

Interpretations of traditional Mexican folk songs, the tracks "Colas," "The Persimmon Tree," and "Carpenter Bird," all draw from the son jarocho tradition. Wax wrote new lyrics for the songs, but kept some of the themes, melodies, and chord progressions. "Colas" is an upbeat track with lighter lyrics--"You couldn't get out of Mexico / But you got in / Now you're gonna have a baby / It should be a Mexican." Part of the song is also in Spanish.

"Beatrice" is another quick-strum song with playful, clever rhyming about a female love interest. The song relies on a catchy chord progression accompanied by fiddle and mandolin. The song is full of "if only" lines, such as, "If you only you hadn't bloomed like a jacaranda tree / If only things were up to me / If only I were the sand of the wide Balsas River / Where I watched you dry off and shiver."

The fiddle/mandolin duo then take the lead in "Beekeeper." Lyrically, the track unfolds detailed imagery full of metaphors about love; it's a slower, more classic folk song with bouts of horns in the verses. The male/female chorus harmonies are their purest in "Beekeeper."

The title track, "Carpenter Bird," is another one of the slower songs on the album and features a second male lead vocalist for the first time. Exemplifying Wax's Mexican influence, the song reaches out to listeners and tells the story of the "Carpenter Bird," which is the literal translation of the Spanish word for woodpecker--"el pajaro carpintero." The new male vocalist in "Carpenter Bird" also sings in the delicate and nostalgic "Be Like A Ghost."

Beginning with an isolated low bass line and growing to include colorful bar-room piano, "I Have Wasted My Life," is a song much less melancholy than the title suggests. It brings the band back to signature echoed lines and long vowels that carry a country influence, making the song stand out amongst the others.

Wax strips the last two songs on the album clean and focuses on singing and guitar playing. "When You are Still" is written carefully and with precision; the song creatively alludes to other tracks on the album. It prepares listeners for the final track, "Let Me Rest." The only song on the album that directly references the "Lord," "Let Me Rest" is simple with soft chord progression and building vocals. The band sings a Cappella at the end--a fitting complement to an album that relies so much on its lyrics.

Check out The David Wax Museum at http://www.davidwaxmuseum.com and http://www.myspace.com/davidwaxmusic.

To purchase a ticket to the album release show, click here.

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