Jayme Kelly Curtis has a voice alternatingly airy, tremulous, and femininely quietly strong, as well as a backing band harmonically sophisticated, and let's throw in engineer Pete Coates, who caught every nuance, extremely sensitive to the wavelength Curtis operates in. The songs on Mid Life Chrysalis range from the sensual to the wryly worldly (Tunisia), the singer's lyrics oft surprising, going in unexpected directions—I mean, how many songs have you heard praising the love affair of Gomez and Morticia Addams (What Would Jed Do?) and other misfit TV figures?
The letter-perfect New Age shot of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis is not at all indicative of the kind of clever eroticism, sweet cynicality and alluring hedonism of Curtis, though that sweet voice is equally deceptive: it ain't always as Doris Day as its tenor makes it seem. Interestingly, she plays an acoustic guitar and writes instrumentals over and above the lyric—Sleeping with Cats is, as she says, vaguely Sleepwalk-ish but there's a refrain in there that's straight out of Fleetwood Mac's Albatross, an influence always good to hear.
The fretless bass of Matt Bohn was a wise selection, as was the addition of Barry Phillips' cello and Shelley Phillips English horn, the latter two of which I could definitely have stood to hear more of. Still, the star here is Curtis, her voice and her excellent lyrics, all of which nominate a number of cuts as prime material for others to cover, especially works like Losing Lovers to Barleycorn. If a sweet lilting voice is your heart's desire, you can hardly do better than her, and if you like poetry on the earthy side along with extraordinarily well-composed and arranged music, well, my friend, you just landed on the trifecta.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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