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An Invitation [Import]

Inara George Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 19.32 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Product Description

Product Description

An Invitation is an intimate collaboration between Inara and legendary arranger Van Dyke Parks. The result is a lush, elegant, fully orchestrated song cycle, a catalog of experiences equally inspired by the sophistication of Frank Sinatra and the storied, cinematic wonder of Richard Sherman's oeuvre. Throughout the record, Van Dyke's cerebral (psychedelic, even) arrangements twist the music into multiple directions at once, a swirling canvas suspended over the sonic mantelpiece of Inara's songs, bewitching and perplexing, a truly organic achievement among friends in an era of artificial pleasures.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars We are closer than most Jan. 10 2009
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Imagine -- what if Regina Spektor were to conquer an orchestra, and recorded an album while keeping them in her thrall?

That about describes the sound of Inara George's second full-length solo album (no bird and the bee, no Living Sisters, nobody!), a quirkily orchestral collaboration with Van Dyke Parks. George's vivid songwriting and huskily pretty voice would be enough to make this a solid effort on their own, but the lovely backdrop of twitching swirling strings and faint accordion take the songs to a whole new level.

It opens with a trumpeting overture and nimble strings, and you can almost imagine a line of heralds welcoming George into a fully furnished little album. And then: "Wanna find the bottom of my heart/wanna be alone until I'm lonely," George sings plaintively, sounding weary and careworn. As the violins spin themselves around her, she tells us what she wants to do: "I want to have regrets/because I want to do absolutely all i can... open the door and find/a destination, a revelation/I'll see a ghost/he'll steal my voice and I'll begin again..."

The next two songs are both sprightlier and darker -- "Accidental" is a barbed little song with a lively melody ("when you speak to me/I speak too pleasantly/where's the knife? where's the fire?") and "Bomb" is a darker version of the same, with a more bittersweet tone. George slips through a wall of swaying strings and gentle accordion, sounding like she's singing a number in a musical set in Parisian springtime.

And after that, George dabbles in other pop songs filled with orchestral grandeur: a languid sunlit ballad ("I can break my heart before we start...
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary music of the highest order Aug. 22 2008
By Michael Leddy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
"An Invitation" is a collaboration across generations and a recording to treasure. Inara George and Van Dyke Parks go back a long way -- to 1974, when Inara (daughter of Little Feat's Lowell George) was born.

"An Invitation" is much like a theater-piece, complete with overture and a closing "Good night, good night to all of you." The songs are beautiful and spare; George sings them in a strong, cool, unstagey voice that makes the meaning of every word register. Her poignant and witty lyrics offer varied glimpses of someone in love, desirous, self-abasing, jubilant, ruefully self-aware, still hopeful. Parks' arrangements for small orchestra are elegant and endlessly supportive.

"An Invitation" is inviting. I've listened to this CD five times in two days, and will be listening again and again. It's contemporary music of the highest order.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizingly beautiful Aug. 15 2008
By John S. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The review title says it all. I count myself extremely fortunate that I stumbled across this record by accident. It was the happiest accident I've had in years.

A beautiful voice, sometimes quirky tunes, and the amazingly lush arrangements by Van Dyke Parks.

I can't stress enough how delighted I am with this record. The orchestral arrangements are so beautiful I could even listen to the record without the vocals and still be taken by it.

No, you don't have to be a fan of this-or-that type of music to enjoy it. Rather, you just have to have a sense of and appreciation for the carefree whimsy of songwriting and music in general.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Low Expectations Were Abolished Dec 26 2008
By Mark L. Ayala - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The L.A. Weekley mentioned in passing that the great Van Dyke Parks had made a new album with someone I've never heard of. First thing I did whne i got home was check on Amazon for this album. When I saw the album, I was worried. It looked like it could be potential hipster garbage. So, I took the risk, coughed up thirteen bucks, and bought the CD.

I remember when I opened the brown Amazon box, I was very impressed by this little CD's colorful and cute packaging. As soon as I noticed the little rabits and birds in the pile of food, I couldn't help it, but smile in glee. I went straight toward my stereo, plopped in the CD, and hit play.

What I heard threw me off. It sounded like Van Dyke Parks, with all the odd key changes and lush orchestration for smaller broadway style groups. Then on the second track came the vocals. I usually avoid most contemporary music so I was caught off guard when this quiet, mousey, jazzy voice came through the speakrs, singing something closer to poetry than just lyrics on a page.

I listened to about half the album, and then had to go somewhere. Everyday since, I've avoided that and tried listening to it the whole way through everyday. Every song has a simple joy to it, something severally lacking in art today. This CD is most definatly up there with the best contemporary popular music albums I've heard in the last few years.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed Jan. 15 2009
By Jeff Mash - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I love Inara George and own all her CDs including her solo work, Merrick, and Bird and the Bee. Unfortunately I did not like her collaboration with Van Dyke Parks on An Invitation. The orchestra music drowns out her voice and is a constant distraction making hard to detect the melody of the song. I have played it several times but find it a noticeable dissappointment compared to how much I have enjoyed all her other music.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peculiar and Lovely March 5 2010
By Rebekah Jarvis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
After finding and thoroughly enjoying this artist's first album "All Rise", I went in search of more of her music and found "An Invitation". At first, I wasn't sure exactly what to make of the intriguing, but rather strange sample clips, but I figured I'd keep returning for another listen out of sheer curiosity if nothing else, so I made the purchase.

I'm so glad my curiosity got the best of me in this case - it has been months now and I've listened to this album so many times, but it still sounds as startling and fresh as the first time. "An Invitation" is a challenging and intellectual collection of flitting strings, sneaky bursts of woodwinds, and twirling, counter-intuitive melodies. The instrumental arrangements are demanding and are as much of a "voice" as the beautiful vocals, forming more of a duet than a backdrop.

This album is evocative and theatrical. Like some of my other favorite albums, it is one of those pieces of music that become almost multisensory the more attention you turn toward it, inspiring both images and sensations. Visions of a dramatically-lit concert hall or a black and white film rolling along on stage in a gilded theater tend to spring to mind when I listen to this music. There's a quality of nostalgia here, a jazzy feeling that reminds me vaguely of the 30's and 40's music my grandfather loves (incidentally, he likes this album too, since I introduced him to it!).

It is easy for me to rave about this album, but at the same time, it's not one I'd easily recommend - "An Invitation" is such a strong flavor and will not appeal to everyone. It is pretty obstinate about not fading into the background, a real show-stealer. If you find yourself intrigued, fascinated, or curious after listening to the samples a few times, give it a try and you might find a new favorite! If you are looking for more of her first album, you might be a bit disappointed by this one, unless you really enjoyed the jazzier moments of "All Rise".
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