A progressive artist in the truest sense of the word, Wisconsin's Stephanie Rearick continues to evolve with each album. Democracy, the fourth CD from the singer/songwriter/pianist/trumpeter continues her streak of mixing biting lyrics with winsome musical arrangements. But now Rearick seems to have more to say than ever. Outwardly political — she's a heavy-duty activist in her hometown of Madison — Democracy takes bold and creative shots at political and social issues, with President Bush as her most visible target.
Some of the 14 songs here are shorter than two minutes, and most of them clock in at less than three minutes. Two of the exceptions are Leonard Cohen's dark yet hopeful "Democracy" and Rearick's own "Man Who Stole Tomorrow," a slow excursion into regret that begins with a trumpet solo reflective of "Taps" and lasts nearly eight minutes. (A slightly shorter version of the song first appeared on Rearick's 2001 debut CD, The Long Picnic.) She also includes another cover, a mournful version of John Lennon's "Across the Universe" that showcases the delicate side of Rearick's piano playing. Elsewhere, her offbeat lyrical delivery gives many songs a distinct and often whimsical flavor that belies their subject matter, and she self-harmonizes on several tracks. On the other hand, "sonnet entitled how to run the world)" finds Rearick at her minimalist best, singing/reciting lyrics from a poem by e.e. cummings over a simple piano melody and some ambient background music that sounds like toy instruments.
Rearick has always been a dichotomous performer, and she proves it again on Democracy — which features one of her own dramatic paintings on the cover and stands tall as her most effective work.
3) Nothing New
6) Across the Universe
7) Cosmos and Asters
8) Dear Shadow
9) In the Rain
11) Man Who Stole Tomorrow
12) Native Tongue
13) You Don't Know
14) sonnet entitled how to run the world) – text by e.e. cummings