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Album

The Afterlife

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New 10 track digipak CD
Now that you've eaten your own heart, will you ever taste ambrosia again? Never mind that now-the Afterlife brings you sustenance of a different kind: the bitter palate of true love, as it is lived and endured. Ten new songs from Elysian Fields stir the pot of Romance through all its flavors-from deranging eros to self-less devotion-but it is a menu of cold comforts. There is regret, and there are secrets; there is love that requires surrender and submission, like Baudelaire's surgeon and patient; there is truth and treachery, and yearning that collapses into disillusion; there is love that panders, and great tenderness; and there is ecstasy, but only for tonight.
Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow make songs of such refinement, one searches in vain for the seams between sound and word: it is at times as if one heartsick, enraptured mind inhabited two heads. As always, they are joined at the table by their extended family of players from New York City's jazz and pop demimonde, in music of timeless dislocation, uniting elements of cabaret, Noir rock and torch, Art Song and gospel: a murderous piano vamp is coming for you, now a guitar mocks, a vibrato-soaked chord quivers at the ear and falls off like a lover's sigh; while an unadorned, simple tune leads us through a catechism of sworn love at first sight. Song-craft so rarely strikes such collaborative equipoise between lyric and setting-each partaking of the other's instincts for allusion and inflection, attack and release-as here. This is hand-made pop music, patient and thoughtfully wrought, risky and knowing, inhabiting its unique idiom as easily as a sharp-dressed man mixes his woolens and silks, never sounding like pastiche. The band sinks us under a constant spell, while its emotionally naked, unflinching singer-in a voice sometimes only above a whisper-lowers her ladder of dark hair and dares us to climb.

Poet Peter Spagnuolo lives in Brooklyn. His poetry and translations have appeared in Poetry Magazine, The Threepenny Review, and Danta.

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