Is This The Kind Of Fate You Could Contemplate, A Breakdown At My Very Sight, I Promise Hidden Words of Tenderness In Every Single Line That I Write
This past Saturday started off horribly. Well, maybe horribly is too strong of a word. I went to lunch with my fellow USC alum, Miss Ilessa, at the Arclight for the express purposes of being able to catch Ghost Rider. Lunch was good so I can't say the whole experience was tainted. It's a bad state of affairs, though, when the highlight of going to the movies is eating lunch beforehand. We had a good talk, got to know her all over again, and then headed into the movie. I won't launch into full detail of how awful I thought the movie was, but I did compare it to "gargling a watermelon, skydiving with a Volvo strapped to your back, and paddling through a sea of broken glass all rolled into one."
Sufficed to say I was one unhappy customer.
Later on, I parted company with Ilessa, to get to the real meat of that day's activities. I drove further on into Los Angeles to the El Rey Theatre on Wilshire to go see my second favorite band in the whole world, Camera Obscura.
And that's when, as they say, things started looking up.
I don't know if I've ever detailed how I got into those plucky minstrels from Glasgow, Scotland, but it's kind of a circuitous route. B. and I were struggling to find a lovely post to grace last year's Mother's Day edition of this site. As always, I suggested we start with a song and work backwards. I knew it wasn't going to be about my mom because, unlike Breanne's mom, I really don't have much to say about mine. I never had the great tragedies or lofty heights that my friend and her mom shared. I'm not much for family in general. My relationship with my mom is what it is, serviceable. Due to this fact, it fell to Breanne to find something appropriately interesting to write. We started scouring the Internet for songs about mothers, loving your mom, and stuff like that. However, we couldn't find anything appropriate. It wasn't until we started doing searches on her mom's name, Jean Holins, that a so-called gift landed right at our feet. We found a song so perfect, so amazing, I still remark to this day that it was some form of serendipity that lead us to the promised land.
That song was this:
--"I Love My Jean" (live on KEXP 2-12-07, probably the most heart-melting version of the song I've heard so far)
And from that song my talented and extremely wonderful friend wrote this:
There's Not A Bonnie Flower, That Springs, By A Fountain, Shaw, Or Green, There's Not A Bonnie Bird That Sings, But Minds Me O, My Jean
That song still brings tears to my eyes, I won't lie. Sure, I know it's only because it's based on an enduring poem by Robert Burns and because it reminds me of Avonlea as well. Yet it's more than that. I'm totally in love with Tracyanne Campbell's voice. I don't know if it's the accent, her unique phrasing of the lyrics, or the fact her voice is in a register reserved for the likes of Allison Krauss, who is still one of my favorite singers. All I know is that from that point forward I couldn't get enough of Camera Obscura. I bought all their albums and downloaded as much as I could get my filthy hands on in a matter of two weeks. Every new song was like finding an old friend and every time Tracyanne, bless her little heart, opened her mouth I was astounded at how beautiful she can make the English language sound. Yes, I'm a sucker for accents and, yes, it doesn't hurt that a lot of the songs she writes touch on the same feelings of loss, regret, forlorness, alienation, and plain stress of life that I seem to always revolve my own writing around, but I can't pay her a higher compliment than saying the reason I like Camera Obscura the most is the fact their music makes me happy.
So it was that I went into my second Camera Obscura show ever on Saturday with high expectations and a twitter in my heart. Their first show had been a gleeful affair and I was hoping this show would follow suit.
I wasn't disappointed.
From "Tears for Affairs" to "Suspended from Class," I was in heaven. Every song sounded as good, if not better, than they did on the album. It was a wonder I got through the whole show without losing my voice because I was singing and screaming right along with the band throughout the entire show. Let me reiterate, I truly think Tracyanne has a unique gift in her voice. It's just pretty, which I know is a simple way to describe a voice, but that's the whole summation of the power and prowess she uses her instrument. She could write a song about garbage heaps and filthy sewers, and all I'd think was I really must see these alluring and dazzling locations she's singing about. The rest of the band also deserves praise. Everyone follows Tracyanne's lead to create a real bang-up job of making wonderful music together. An especially whopping round of applause goes to Carey Lander, the band's keyboardist (and resident redhead... sigh). I didn't know this until I saw their first show, but apparently she handles all the back-up vocals on their albums. I had thought up until that point that they simply dubbed Tracyanne on the recordings. I don't think I was alone in this assumption. Every time I've seen them play, though, Carey has handled her back-up vocals duties with aplomb and determination. It must be rough to be drowned out by such a stong lyrical presence like Camera Obscura's lead singer, but Carey has quite a good voice in her own right. I especially love her backing of Tracyanne in the song "If Looks Could Kill". The two voices blend so well together.
After the show I caught up with Ilessa again and I told her all about my wonderful night over breakfast at one in the morning at The Kettle over in Manhattan Beach. I must have talked her ear off and every word out of my mouth had to be, "you should have been there. It was great." In fact, my only regrets were the facts that I hadn't met her earlier in the month and that the concert sold out so quickly I was unable to procure tickets for her.
Hmmm. There's always next time. Believe me, when they come rolling in again, I'm going to be going to as many shows as possible. I know, I just know, that damn voice is going to haunt me until I can see them live in concert again.
All in all, the day started off sucky, but it ended on one of the most perfect notes I've ever experienced. And all those notes came courtesy of one amazing singer named Miss Tracyanne and one amazing band named Camera Obscura.
Eh, one more for good measure...
"Shine Like A New Pin"