Sunday, May 31, 2015

REVIEW: Kori Linae Carothers - Fire In The Rainstorm

Fire In The Rainstorm
iRoknNod Records

Kori Linae Carothers journeyed once more to the woods of Vermont and Imaginary Road Studios where she recorded her previous album, Trillium. However this time around, Carothers decided to leave her electronic keyboards at home. Under the watchful gaze and artistic guidance of the production team of Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton, Carothers took the plunge and relied on piano, and piano alone, to convey her musical message on Fire in the Rainstorm. Apparently, her muse thought it was a great idea because the album is a revelation for this gifted musician and composer. cdbaby-logocdbaby-logoBy stripping away her assorted keyboards and baring her soul through the piano's ivories, her music has reached a new level of immediacy and intimacy. Carothers has always had an amount of dynamism in her music, and there is plenty of that here as well at times. However, on Fire in the Rainstorm she displays an uncommon level of shading and nuance that could only be achieved by "going back to basics" and letting a piano be her only voice. It's certainly her most self-assured recording to date.

Of course, the album sounds terrific. Tom Eaton saw to that (as he usually does). However, a superb job of engineering can also reveal an artist's shortcomings much more clearly than a less-than-admirable job. No such problem with Fire in the Rainstorm, as the clarity of every note and chord reveals Carothers' immense talent and complete control over the keys, as well as her mastery of nuance and subtlety. I was surprised time and time again at how she combined a level of total composure and self-assuredness with deep emotion and human warmth. After reading the liner notes, I probably shouldn't have been surprised at the latter. Carothers dedicated the album to her daughter Claire who has served overseas, and I'm sure that wellspring of emotion, once tapped into, served forth with plenty of inspiration for these twelve tracks.

There is a signature sound throughout Fire in the Rainstorm, even though the individual tracks contain plenty of variety. The opening "A Day Like No Other" features a melody which flows with a feeling of restrained power while "Nunu's Sunrise" bubbles lightly over with a gentle optimism. "Meadow" features a delicate repeating refrain underneath a sunny-day lead melody and seems to convey a sense of fun-filled movement, like a musical sensation of skipping or running through the titular reference. In stark contrast, "Tidal Rift" has an edge of dramatic tension although the bridge mellows out nicely before returning to the main melody. The title track is surprisingly more subtle than I would have expected at the outset but builds to a powerful passage, subsides, and then escalates to an even greater sense of urgency and passion.
The remaining seven tracks explore various nooks and crannies of the artist's memories (Carothers describes the album as a "collection of personal stories told by solo piano soundscapes"). Whether slightly sad or somber, cheerful and triumphant, or passionate and powerful, in each case you can "feel" the emotion that the artist is injecting into each note and chord. Kori Linae Carothers took a chance with this recording and from my perspective she has succeeded in uncovering an entirely new facet of her musical personality, one that invites the listener into the artist's life in a personal and intimate way. Fire in the Rainstorm is one fire that you will not be in a hurry to put out.

Fire In The Rainstorm is available directly from the artist (via bandcamp) as well as Amazon, iTunes, and CDBaby.

No comments: