Harvell, Cyndi: From the Echo
Cyndi started her music career in the music mecca of Athens, Georgia. But she soon craved deeper waters from which to fish. So she went west and found Mike Stevens and John Howland. For Cyndi, "It was like reuniting with old friends. We meshed together like peanut butter, jelly and Wonder bread". They played around the San Francisco bay area, as an acoustic trio, and were discovered by Jack Douglas "(a producer with an impressive resume, including Aerosmith, John Lennon, Patti Smith, the Who)". Jack sent the acoustic trio to local producer Jim Greer, who adopted them "like hungry stray kittens".
Cyndi has a very unique voice which makes this album a great find and a wonderful change of pace. She is somewhere between folk and straight ahead rock n' roll. Cyndi calls it Americana folk rock. This is a great original work about moving away from what holds you back and taking a chance to see how far you can go.
The acoustic guitar, percussion, patted drums, and the soft southern voice of Cyndi welcomes you with the title song, "From the Echo". Very original music, full of character and emotion. One of the best lines in the song is "If you don't look down you won't see your feet when they leave the ground".
Cyndi's soft vocals open with the story of her trip out west, "I got an idea. I've got a proposition. What if we ran to the edge of earth and stayed?", as "Lighthouse" opens. The tug of the west coast and the promise it offers of success. Just like a beacon. The drums and guitar on this one perk up nicely to make it one of the best songs on the album. Cyndi's echoing vocal refrains and that soft piano add a warm touch. "I found a way around." And so she did.
Heavy bass, drums, and hand clapping opens "Middleman". "Tell me why you're waiting. Is there something you can prove? Looking in your microscope waiting for a movement". A nice bouncing rhythm that accompanies this commentary on the music biz and how middlemen try to shape an artists' creation. "I am the middle man layin' down the road for you folk stars. You fall down the backstairs like you were a falling star. You're almost wise enough." Cyndi's unique voice adds a gentle but firm touch to the lyrics. She is well supported with guitars, drums, bass, Hammond and that cool hand clapping throughout.
Cool bass and banjo open "Northbound", like a Tom Waits song. Excellent work on the banjo and guitars and Cyndi fills the song with great lyrics and vocals. The cool steel guitar in the background adds great effect. The rhythm changes from a bouncy melody to a slow soft delivery. Another of the best songs on the album.
Cyndi's vocal, "I am the razor wire that gives you an evil grin. Says 'you're not comin' in", opens "Loaded Question", set to soft banjo to take off the edge. Cyndi's longing voice, "Love is a candle. Nothing but firelight. I'm right in the doorway sayin' goodnight". The bass and steel guitar add to the sad feeling in the lyrics and vocals.
The opening bass on "Off Chance" builds drama before Cyndi joins in, "If I had to draw a line between what's yours and mine. I would have a hard time deciding where it starts". Then she follows with, "You are no good for me. If I know this accidental destiny. And you know this. But if you notice, all of the truth and the untruth collide". Lyrics that describe an uncomfortable relationship set to steel guitar, drums, bass and acoustic guitar.
An upbeat rhythm kicks in to start "Eye of a Needle". This song has more of a country vocal to it. The tingling piano, bass, guitar and drums set a funky little rhythm to support Cyndi's vocal. "Glass house, I've got a stone, but I've learned my lessons in the past. I'll be your cliché any time." A song filled with clichés and Cyndi has allot of fun with it. The piano and organ add well to the soundscape.
"Break for It" opens with a cool guitar chord, reminiscent of some of Ben Harper's Relentless 7 work, with good support of drums. It 'breaks' shortly after into a fun song. Cyndi's "this is my break for it", moment. "It's all in the challenge. So crack a smile and admit its wild. I feel a break coming. I got the engine humming. Climbed up the fence and I'm running". Great lyrics to support this fun song of departure, full of good guitar, organ, bass and drums.
Beautiful piano and Cyndi's soft voice open "The Underside". "They want to know what I'm made of. Oh the towers of doubt that are leaning." The challenge of recording and creating songs for others. Her ability to express the frustration and euphoria of capturing a moment are expressed so perfectly here. The other side, the hard work that comes with success, eventually.
Soft guitar and bass open "Like a Whisper" as Cyndi's vocals warmly begin, "Down below, underneath, there are secrets I could keep. The cities, boundaries time under your belt. You take a deep breath, and hold it all in". This reminds me of an Eddie Vedder reflective song. Wonderful guitar work throughout. The soft drums warmly support the rhythm.
Slow acoustic guitar and piano opening for "Afterlife", bringing back memories of the opening of Al Stewart's Year of the Cat. But then things take a turn for the worse. "Seven miles from the river side. The water's deep and the waters wide. Heavier electric guitars and drums, with the dramatic piano keys filling in spaces. "Trying to cross, but I can't swim. It was too hard so I gave in". Then the refrain, "I got this thorn in my side. There's nothing I can do, no. It's taken out, I would die, but I'm afraid of the afterlife". Powerful words and excellent piano and mandolin drifting in and out of the piece as the lead guitars and drums set rhythm. The best rocker on the album.
1. From the Echo
5. Loaded Question
6. Off Chance
7. Eye of A Needle
8. Break For It
9. The Underside
10. Like A Whisper
Added: February 27th 2011
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: Artist Website
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