Saturday, October 16, 2010

Review: Normandie Wilson “The Flower Box”

West Virginia native Normandie Wilson specializes in homegrown, vintage, DIY organic indie-pop (and painting). She grew up listening to 1960's music like Burt Bacharach, Beach Boys, and Motown soul while watching birds with her grandma. In fact, one of her goals outside music is to paint every species of bird. The question we’re concerned with here, however, is does her music make us want to soar?

“The Flower Box” follows her 2009 release, “Music For Smart People”, and continues her trend to defy musical convention. Lyrically, Wilson is heads above the rest, writing about familiar subjects like love and love lost with acerbic wit and humor. She makes no bones about wearing her heart on her sleeve and putting everything out there for all to see…warts and all. Same goes for her music, though. The collection is not without its warts, or perhaps “weeds” given the title. “The Flower Box” contains only five vocal tracks separated by four instrumental numbers. Most tunes are piano-based and quite beautiful at times, highlighting Wilson’s training in classic jazz. Vocally Wilson is not bad, but I think it is safe to say that she is an acquired taste for most.

Several of her tunes exude a 70s lounge feel with some soul or jazz peppered in for good measure. The end result is generally an amusingly warm and perky sound, but at times it comes across like a confused and drunken doo-wop group (take opening track “Elevator!” for example). Alternatively, the blunt and abrasive lyrics of “Been Cryin’ My Eyes Out” simply don’t mesh with the old-fashioned jangly piano and gentle retro horns at all – it sounds like a Ben Folds parody gone wrong. “I’m Not Dead Yet” is the most enjoyable to my ears. “I’m Not Dead Yet” is the type of song Wilson could really take flight with – cute and quirky, this is her element. The rest is, well, for the birds.

iPOD-worthy: 3

Normandie Wilson on MySpace. Official site.