lifeblood: listlogs: 2010v12n022-news

ig-news-digest        wednesday, july 14 2010        volume 12 : number 022

today's subjects:
  [ig-news] popmatters review of staring down the brilliant dream  [sherlyn ]
  [ig-news] pop dose review           [sherlyn koo <>]


date: wed, 14 jul 2010 15:54:59 +1000
from: sherlyn koo <>
subject: [ig-news] popmatters review of staring down the brilliant dream

hi folks,

here's a review of the new album, from popmatters.  you can read it online


- ---begin forwarded article---
indigo girls: staring down the brilliant dream

[13 july 2010]
by rod lockwood

it has been a long time since the indigo girls have been required to
bother themselves with anything but their music. their political leanings
(far left), image (earthy, fashion-challenged southern folkies) and
semi-righteous artistic stance (would you want to be the studio exec who
wanders in and suggests they make a hit single?) combined with a
passionate, fiercely devoted fan base have thoroughly insulated the band
from outside influences. they record independently now, shorn of annoying
record label requirements and freed of market concerns. as much as any band
of their era, the indigo girls can do whatever they want without worrying
about critical acclaim or commercial interests.

this is a good thing for any number of reasons, not the least of which is
that amy ray and emily saliers are mature, prodigious talents best left to
follow their creative muse sans outside meddling. the proof is all over
their second full-length live disc, staring down the brilliant dream, which
effectively captures the girls" strengths in a series of 31 songs recorded
on various tours from 2006 to 2009.

live discs are generally glorified greatest hits packages or overblown
souvenirs from a band"s most recent tour. typically, the indigo girls opt
for an alternative strategy, using the collection as a career retrospective
that captures them in various shows over the three years, patching them
together in a package that doesn"t resemble any single-show setlists over
that time span.

this could have been disastrous, by leading to a distracting, piecemeal
feel, especially if the sound quality or energy from the performances
varied considerably. it"s clear, though, that staring down the brilliant
dream was put together in painstaking fashion. it"s the production
equivalent of the way the band"s complex vocal harmonies knit together

it works amazingly well. in fact, more than any of their 11 studio albums,
the live disc could go a long way toward attracting the uninitiated to the
band"s substantial talents. it"s also a given that this package is a slam
dunk for long-time fans who spontaneously sing-along to the band"s songs
the same way a metal fan thrusts his fist in the air at the drop of a power

kicking off with the ska-infused "heartache for everyone", the set has the
immediate vibe of musical adventurousness and fun. the indigo girls have
long been associated with serious issues such gay rights, environmental
causes and anti-war stances, but they are neither dour nor buzz-kills. the
emphasis in their live shows is on community. that also means getting
together with friends and lovers and having a good time, which staring down
the brilliant dream captures both overtly and subtly.

ray and saliers often end the songs with what sounds like a heartfelt
"thanks, y"all", and occasionally break into laughter. they also encourage
their fans to sing along, which is fortunately kept to a minimum, reducing
the "kumbaya" factor that could ruin a live recording.

the level of musicianship captured throughout the sprawling set is both
impressive and daunting. the cd is spiced liberally with moments of
transcendence. "salty south" features an acoustic guitar holding down a
funky rhythm that goes beyond a traditional folk strum, while a harmonica
and mandolin lock into a mini musical adventure. "what are you like" is a
powerhouse, with the vocals soaring across the song. the old warhorse
"prince of darkness", from their first major release, is suffused with
energy and complexity, the vocals weaving in and out of each other and
ultimately coming together in a chill-inducing climax.

perhaps most surprising is the ferocious rocker "tether", with its
impassioned lead vocal from ray, roaring guitars, and timeless lyrics about
the nature of war and peace in america. a pair of covers are included.
their take on bob dylan"s "don"t think twice (it"s alright)" is predictable
and in the band"s wheelhouse without adding much to the original. a version
of the rolling stones" "wild horses" is less successful and feels weighted
down by the vocal gymnastics.

it"s tempting to cherry-pick favorites when listening to staring down the
brilliant dream. perhaps that"s how it"s intended, given that the songs are
taken from separate concerts over the years. the emphasis is on the
individual performances rather than portraying an actual indigo girl
concert. perhaps tellingly, the band"s traditional sing-along set-closer
"galileo" isn"t even included. detailed liner notes are included in the
set, with explanations for each of the songs that illuminate why they were
chosen for the disc.

staring down the brilliant dream is neither a placeholder live album, nor
a cheesy attempt to cash-in on the band"s "greatest hits". it stands as a
testament to a band that restlessly continues to challenge itself and its


published at:

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date: wed, 14 jul 2010 16:05:42 +1000
from: sherlyn koo <>
subject: [ig-news] pop dose review

hi folks,

here's another review of the new album, from pop dose


- ---begin forwarded article---
tuesday, june 29th, 2010
cd review: indigo girls, "staring down the brilliant dream"
by jason hare

as the story goes, the initial scene backstage at lilith fair in 1997 was
a somewhat lonely one: many of the featured artists stayed in their
individual dressing rooms with their respective bands until showtime. until
indigo girls showed up, that is, and began knocking on everyone's doors,
asking if anybody wanted to join them for any number of songs within their
set. the atmosphere opened up and a community formed, and the duo fostered
what can only be described as a hootenanny. this vibe seems to surround the
indigo girls concert experience, both for artists and audience, and is
plenty present on their new solid live release, staring down the brilliant

a two-disc set, dream is the third live release in the girls discography
(preceded by 1991's back on the bus, y'all and 1995's 1200 curfews). while
that may seem like at least one live album too many, amy ray and emily
saliers have been so prolific since the release of the last one that
there's barely any overlap at all. and for those who have followed their
career since the beginning, it's easy to hear the maturity in song approach
and performance throughout.

the track listing was taken from a handful of concerts between 2006 and
2009, and the girls have wisely decided to present a varied setlist --
nearly their entire discography is represented within these two discs, the
heaviest being from their latest studio album poseidon and the bitter bug.
(1992's rites of passage is ignored entirely, most likely because six songs
from the album wound up on 1200 curfews.) the duo have always toured in two
incarnations -- as a full band and as a pared-down duo -- and the album is
split evenly between the two. truth be told, most of the "duo" songs
feature an additional musician, julie wolf on keyboards and vocals, though
her additions are welcome on nearly every track. the diversity in
performance style allows for some freedom to really explore each song; i
never cared for become youbs "moment of forgiveness" until hearing this
quiet, gentle version, and other ray full-tilt rockers like "go" and
"tether" benefit from her passionate electric guitar work behind a solid

while there are certainly some duds on this release -- most of the songs
from despite our differences (their weakest album) remain forgettable --
they're far and few between. recent songs like "come on home," "cordova"
and "what are you like" are all beautiful examples of the continued
strength of their songwriting, and their older songs have grown up, exuding
a maturity about them: "the wood song" (one of my all-time favorites)
sounds wiser than it did on swamp ophelia, "get out the map" actually
sounds more joyful than it does on record, and "prince of darkness" has
lost its melodrama and become a quiet spiritual. this does occasionally
backfire -- "shame on you" in particular has lost some of its edge -- but
more often than not, they've settled into their back catalogue enough that
the songs simply breathe on stage.

much like 1200 curfews, a few covers are included on this release; while
they don't hold up to the previously released covers of "river" and
"tangled up in blue," they provide featured moments for some of the guests
that join them on stage. longtime ig opener michelle malone is featured on
"wild horses," which she's pretty much owned for over 10 years. new ig fave
brandi carlile is featured on a raucous cover of "don't think twice, it's
all right," which i'd probably enjoy more if i didn't hold so much
affection for the ig/joan baez version from ring them bells. guests also
appear on ig staples like "closer to fine" and "kid fears," which features
trina meade from atlanta's three5human and comes close to surpassing
michael stipe with her guest vocal.

with staring down the brilliant dream, indigo girls are preaching to the
converted, but even casual fans of the group should definitely pick this
one up; it serves as a good reminder that the secret to their longevity
lies in their continued growth as songwriters, their uncanny ability to
combine their voices into a greater entity, and the communal experience
they offer to anyone who attends their shows. these actually converge into
one pure, spine-tingling moment in "prince of darkness," when saliers
encourages the audience to sing the final verse together. it's a moment
that shouldn't work on a record, and yet it does. it represents why, after
25 years together, they still have so much to offer those willing to

read more: cd review: indigo girls, "staring down the brilliant dream" |
under creative commons license: attribution

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end of ig-news-digest v12 #22

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