on November 13, 2002
This is a truly wonderful album, which is ultimately (and unfortunately) polarizing fans of His Name is Alive. I'm a fan of HNiA's older work, and have always found Warn Defever's strength to be in aesthetic more than in songwriting (not meant as a slight at all) -- on this record, however, Defever's working without the safety net of his trademark sound, and is in fact working with not only a new 'band' arrangement but a remarkably different chanteuse. The songwriting, as a result of not being submerged behind layers of lo-fi patina, had to step up to the task. And it really did. Full songs -- not fragments, not three-line verses -- show what Defever was heading towards in the production and songwriting of STARS ON E.S.P..
Listening to Lovetta Pippin sing on the first few tracks, it's not hard to see what Defever saw in her as a musician -- her voice is the sort of instrument that could only intrigue a musician as wide-reaching as he has been in the past few years. She's got a great tone, a great delivery, and well acts her songs.
Many of these reviews claim that this is not really a HNiA album, that the differences are just too great between this and the quiet, affecting pop on LIVONIA and HOME IS IN YOUR HEAD...I disagree. I hear familiar chord progressions, familiar trickling guitar and cello notes. I hear statements in the lyrics that are as opaque and sad as those in Warn's older work. It's radically different, yes, but no less impressive, no less affecting. It would be wonderful to see this make it to the mainstream, but (for all of the complainers' issues with it sounding 'like Mariah Carey') this is an album that's too idiosyncratic, too intelligent to be properly pushed towards a receptive audience. Sadly, 4AD doesn't seem to know how to push His Name is Alive to anything other than a clove-cigarettes-and-copies-of-Faulkner crowd, which does Pippin and Defever a disservice. This was a very brave move for him to make, and he deserves credit for it.
Really, I think attempting to redo HOME IS IN YOUR HEAD would be selling out much more than would be letting a new relationship with an impressive musician take your music in new directions. More musicians should be so daring.
on August 28, 2002
Most people might think of this album as a sharp 90 degree turn for the band, but I disagree. Owning all albums from the first up until this one, there is a definite path of growth and change, and this album makes perfect sense. I listen - I still hear His Name Is Alive. Their subtle nuances are unmistakable. This album is finely crafted and beautifully thought out and the attention to detail shows. It is one of my all time favorite albums. Their new album will be out 23/Sept/2002, and I can hardly wait... If it is anywhere near the beautiful album 'Somday' is, then we're all in for a second treat.
on June 27, 2002
All of the close-minded "fans" of HNIA should be ashamed for giving this album one star. I can't stand music fans who want to hear the same thing over and over, and I never expected to read those kind of sentiments from fans of an obscure and diverse band like HNIA.
Bottom line, this disc is one of the best HNIA albums. The sounds come together like nothing else, and the songs are moving. The combination of Lovetta's voice and Warn's sounds is emotionally arresting. You'd have to be emotionless to fail to enjoy this album.
Bottom line, this is crushing stuff that made me want to jump up and down and dance and scream and does all the exciting things the best music can do...
on October 18, 2001
No, this does not sound like (most) any other HNIA CD. Of course, I stopped hoping any of Warren's pieces would sound like any other some time ago. While I certainly do love the alien beauty of the earlier works, I also really appreciate the humor and deep strangeness of the newer works. A feature that 'Someday...' is hardly lacking in.
I doubt somehow that the Living Dead occupy much space in most popular R&B. The whole point of this CD is that while it might sound like run of the mill R&B, it most certainly isn't if you listen to the lyrics.
This is exactly what I would expect from the guy who did the surf rock song about quantum theory (specifically, the Copenhagen Interpretation), or a funk song about Nikola Tesla. Specifically, I would expect something I couldn't anticipate.
That said, this is enough of a divergence from my usual taste that I need to be more specifically in the mood for it than the other HNIA music. My tastes lean towards the goth, (and fall flat down into it from time to time), but I have room for this music too.
on September 9, 2001
His Name is Alive's SOMEDAY MY BLUES WILL COVER THE EARTH is a beautiful and heartbreaking album that already seems like one of the finest records out this year. Warn Defever has made a vast leap from the oldies-robot-rock of his previous album, 1998's FT. LAKE, and brings us here an album drawn from elements of blues, soul, and r'n'b.
In a first for a HNIA album, the vocals are provided by only one woman, the fantastic Lovetta Pippen. Her versatility, ranging from shimmering to melancholy, gives the album a variety of expression, but everything is kept consistent by Warn's careful and attentive production.
"Happy Blues," "Write My Name..." and "One Year" may be the standouts, but every track is special. Cheap keyboards provide bridges from song to song, just like on FT. LAKE, but here there are also wrenching instrumental interludes.
The album's art, designed by v23, complements the sound perfectly, and is one of the studio's greatest achievements. The work undertaken by graphic designer Vaughan Oliver resulted in the album being delayed for nearly a year, but the final product is well worth the wait. SOMEDAY... is packaged in a brown paperboard Digipak with fantastic photography by Lucien Rudaux and E.N.A. and a moving photo of Warn and Lovetta.
SOMEDAY... is a difficult record. Cultural bias and the last remaining tinges of racism in our society may make the album foreign and unappealling for long-time fans of HNIA. Nonetheless, listening with an open mind and pacience will show the care and skill that Warn bestowed on this jewel. It sounds a little different, but Warn's touch is still clear.
on September 7, 2001
Okay- please bear with me, 'cause I'm gonna start with the criticisms...
The main problem I have with this record is that it is successful neither as a straight R&B album nor as a His Name Is Alive album, which leaves us in something of a nebulous zone. I have much respect for Warn Defever's skills, but the beats tend to get in the way. I think the basic problem is in trying to force an R&B structure onto songs which are so clearly not of that realm. Just listen to the version of "One Year" on Warn's solo release "I Want You to Live One Hundred Years," compare it to this recording (with Lovetta's syrupy croon replacing Warn's anguished crack), and you'll see what I mean. And while I'm sure Warn is really happy with this new version of "Are We Still Married," I don't think it stands up to any of HNIA's earlier renditions. Which brings me to the next big issue: the absence of Karin Oliver. While I knew this was going to be a Lovetta spectacular, the song title "Karin's Blues" (listed on the 4AD web site well before the actual album release) gave me a sliver of hope that she'd make an appearance. Instead it is the song that I most wish had been left off this album, seeming like a suburban high school band's rendition of the blues more than anything. HNIA has always flirted with disparate styles and survived, making the process that much more impressive (look at the shift from old time-y folk to surf-rock on "Stars on ESP"). Here, however, the experiments fail more often than succeed, proving nothing more than Warn's fallibility, which he needn't be crucified for. He's still an amazingly talented, adventurous musician.
Keep this in mind when you first put this CD on, for you will be greeted by the kind of magic that I have come to expect from His Name Is Alive, and I suppose that's what really counts. "Nothing Special" sounds a little like "No Hiding Place Down Her" from "Ft. Lake," which should give you a good idea of what to expect. "Write My Name In The Groove" is about the most upbeat this album gets, which is mostly full of slower, introspective songs (and not too much guitar wankery). Warn digs out his ancient wire recorder once again for a brief (and very effective) foray into Duke Ellington's "Solitude," but elsewhere there are hi-fi flourishes of strings and piano. The focus of this album is supposed to be Lovetta's voice, and it is impressive. I still miss the ethereal Karin, though, and hope that Defever's love affair will eventually give way to some amazing new songs.
Compared to HNIA's other releases, this one is flawed. I got my hopes up pretty high since it was delayed so long, and I do expect this release will grow on me, but I was counting on something more immediately mind-blowing. As it is, it stands as a fine record, just not one of Warn's best. He's working on an instrumental album (with much of the same cast) for time stereo, and I wonder if much of this could've been released as one of his many side projects rather than the "big" new HNIA album. Buy it, enjoy it, check out timestereo.com for more obscure Warn releases and other fun stuff.
Fans of Ida please note: Dan Littleton plays on a few tracks here (and co-wrote "Happy Blues"). Violinist Ida Pearle appears, as well.
on September 6, 2001
This CD is essentially chill-out music, which is quite a switch for HNIA. Furthermore, most of the music is rather subtle, not a common approach in HNIA's past. The closest thing I can think of is "No Hiding Place Down Her" from Ft. Lake, and that's still a bit of a stretch.
But it's really quite good, as long as you're not hoping for another "Can't Go Wrong Without You". The R&B stylings put a shimmering finish on the intelligent songs, earthy vocals, and tight, minimalist arrangements. I disagree strongly that this sounds like common radio pop-R&B. This is careful, natural music that doesn't throw itself at you or smother its spirit in excessive production. This sounds about as much like Mariah Carey as the Cowboy Junkies sound like Garth Brooks -- that is to say, not at all, beyond overly broad genre classifications.
It's not perfect. The biggest problem is that an awful lot of the tracks sound pretty similar. Unlike most HNIA albums, the individual tracks are stronger than the album as a whole, and even a few of them strike me as downright boring.
However, the pros outweigh the cons. This is what I always wished R&B would sound like: graceful, poised, and smart; never smarmy or crass. It's a polished postmodern work that sounds very 2001. Given a little time and a few open minds, this one just may become a classic. Contrary to popular opinion, the ability to appreciate wise, soulful music is nothing to be ashamed of.
on August 31, 2001
People who say "This isn't His Name Is Alive!" or things like that are just being silly. Since it began, HNIA has been Warren Defever doing whatever Warren Defever felt like doing, no HNIA album has sounded exactly like another -- compare "Home Is In My Head" to "Stars on E.S.P", or "Mouth by Mouth" to "Ft. Lake". This is just a larger leap than most, is all.
It seems as this album is a showcase for a voice Warren has fallen in love with. The minimal instrumentation (but by no means "just a drum machine", and anyone who hears "nary a guitar" simply isn't LISTENING) is almost secondary to Lovetta Pippin's warm out-reaching voice. High points include "Nothing Special", "Our Last Affair" and the beautiful, breathtaking reworking of "Are We Still Married?", although none of the songs are simple throw-aways or dismissible.
It's a quiet album, a smooth album, a wonderful album, and most definitely *is* His Name Is Alive.
on August 30, 2001
In contrast to some of the other reviewers, I think this is a wonderful album, and would rank it as one of HNIA's finest works. The wit and electicism of the earlier records (which was too often worn on the band's collective sleeve, in my opinion) here is subtler, and augmented by stronger production, better crafted songs, and a singer that can actually _sing_ wonderfully.
My perspective is obviously different than some. I was only a passing fan of their earlier material, but on "Ft. Lake" and now "Someday" HNIA are now crafting songs that are deeply and genuinely moving. I become a bigger fan with each new release.
If you're hoping for a rehash of the "4AD sound" from the early 90s, well, buy the back catalog. But don't complain when a band continues to stretch, develop and grow. As far as sounding like everything on the radio, I think those reviewers are mistaking the delivery for the message..
on August 29, 2001
This CD should come with a warning: "If you love His Name IS Alive, then you will not like this." Honestly, I think Mr. Defever must be sniffing too many Detroit fumes. Thing is, the liner for the CD lists all kinds of musicians and instruments....BUT, where are they? All I hear is Lovetta (who is far from inspiring) and a drum machine.
I am in tears. What a waste of talent.