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Volume 90, Issue 92
Wednesday, March 19, 1997
Poetic and intriguing flowers
Flowers on the dash
Prose Act Records
Vitriol is not a word one may expect to grace the chorus of a folk song. It probably is not a common practice for a musician to encourage the listener to thumb through a dictionary in deciphering a song's meaning, either. Eric Vani has no problem breaking these patterns in his leadoff track entitled "Miss O'Shaughnessy." Throughout the nine other tracks, Vani takes pride lining his lyrics with poetic flare.
Flowers on the dash is the first offering from this Ottawa native, who honed his penning skills by performing with several bands. He illustrates both his past participation in rock activities and his word placement with the line, "I made a ruby for your crown, out of a back-stage pass," from the song "Coming to Terms." In the same song, he admits, "Embarrassed, I'll resign myself/ To a visitor parking spot/ And a broken conversational schedule." Revelations of this nature fill the album, usually with some sort of intriguing wordiness.
Vani approaches the musical element with two staple instruments: acoustic guitar and an African drum. Vani calls in the help of other musicians to provide additional percussion, bass lines and violin. The rhythmic sway is impressive for the first few tracks, but loses ground after repeated listening. This may be the failure for the percussion and the guitars to experiment with different signatures.
The voice that signs the album has two distinct phases: whispery, raspy and affected; and tormented throaty screaming. The first phase suits the songs and the style and the second comes off sounding like an incarnation of popular bands of today. That may be explained by the commentary that Vani's style is a derivative from the embrace of grunge.
Holding onto grunge and a dictionary, Vani delivers an acoustic album representative of today's top of the pops material, while providing compensation with some interesting lyrical commitment.
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