Marianne Kesler - The Acoustic Madonna
There are bands who focus on production, there are singers and bands who are occupied with finding radio hooks, and there are singer-songwriters who write from the inside and let success fall where it may. Marianne Kesler's new release, Green Room, is the latter (maybe with the pinch of "hooks" thrown in for self-satisfaction).
The premise is acoustic, though she does not stick to the "rules" of folk or acoustic pop, most ably heard in the title track:
"Walking through doorways, roaming the halls
Long endless corridors, writing on the walls
Gazing in mirrors, adjusting the light
Subtle reflections & rumors of light
And I wait for you. And I wait for you...
In the green room...so patiently
In the green room...wait and see"
If they ever remake "Saturday Night Fever" (oh come on, they'll get around to eventually), they should put in "So Beautiful" in place of "More Than a Woman." It's got the same quietness and soft romance as that classic, only in a single voice, acoustic guitar (with rhythm) way that would make Karen Carpenter smile jealously.
On every track there is an air of innocence that translates dewy-eyed girls who write poetry into the real world (and we're not talking the edited, shaky camera MTV version). The abecedarian, lucid vision of "Unrefined" is merely a soft beat, a few unplugged guitars and a voice giving clues into her uncomplicated yet intricate emotional lifestyle. Not crooned, but the voice is held not much higher than a whisper as she soulfully throws:
"The lion is crouching
The door is left ajar
A voice in the hallway
A roar from afar
Trying hard to remember
Harder to forget
Thinking of the what ifs
And lingering regrets...and
I keep falling, falling back again."
It is this blend of melodic, unsullied optimism that has kept Marianne Kesler in the studio and touring for exactly a decade. Her performance history is a literal Who's Where of festival work: Rockfest in NY, Rock the Park in CT, Rockledge Music Festival NY, Columbus Arts Festival, Inside Out Soul Festival in NH, and Woodstock in CT. Not to mention extensive tours in The Netherlands and Australia. She also frequents coffeehouses, cafes, churches and any place else they allow music from California to New Jersey.
This is Marianne's 5th studio album since 1994. She's received an incredible seven ASCAP Popular Awards, with airplay across the US, Chile, Spain, Finland Romania and other unbelievable places.
It differs from her previous releases because, as she states, "there is more 'acoustic art pop' melded with the rock in Green Room, in contrast to the folk influences of my earlier albums. Also this producer finally hit upon the electric guitar sounds I have been searching for several projects!" Both the writing and recording took the better part of a year to put together. "I think the lack of time pressure allowed us to better serve the individual songs for once. We had very few parameters going into this project other than to make beautiful music."
With influences covering Neil Young, Counting Crows, Judy Collins, Goo Goo Dolls, U2, Kings X, Bob Dylan and James Taylor, no wonder she's "always admired a deeply felt message communicated with passion and honesty. So much of music to me is overkill - glossy treatments of the superficial. It just doesn't ring true to me. I've had some really tough things to deal with in my life and some days I just don't 'feel' good. But my faith lets me look a bit further than the everyday into what I believe is a deeper reality, and there I find comfort and hope."
This simple, honest view of observing life and people is where her style and lyrics come from. "Something happens, it triggers a thought process, and a song is born. I used to write totally personal songs, but now many are what I call 'collages' ... a little bit of me, a glimpse of you ... hoping people can see themselves in the reflection."
Marianne has paid her dues and is now prepared to reap the club benefits, one of which is working alongside her family on the road. "Actually, my kids are older now and I am free to pursue music full time. They have traveled with me in the past though, and are all very supportive. They have been everything from roadies to players to my current co- writer and producer...very awesome."
As anyone else in the field might say, her dreams for music are simple: "Just a bigger audience that really loves my music... instead of booking all the little gigs and praying that somebody shows up! Being asked to play, and having an audience that just loves what you do (so you can quit trying to please everyone or catch the latest wave) living out this crazy dream of making music!
"I think Green Room is the closest I have ever come to capturing what I mean to say and how I want to sound! I actually enjoy listening to it... which as an artist is very hard for me to say about my own work. So with all this, I am truly hopeful that a whole new fan base will make its acquaintance and really fall in love with the music!
"I really love what I do. If I could come to the place of being able to create music, as opposed to spending so much time on the business side of things, I would feel very fulfilled in that part of my life. I'd feel like I was doing just what I was created to do!"
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