Volume 92, Issue 80
Thursday, February 18, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Diviners play with poison
13 Stories High
The Diviners are one of many Canadian bands seeking to find a niche in an increasingly pop-oriented music industry. In the past few years, the lighter end of the pop/rock spectrum has seen a dramatic resurgence thanks to artists such as Celine Dion and Sarah McLachlan. In other words, this would be an ideal time to release an album of this genre.
This is where the Diviners' difficulties begin. They attempt to differentiate their music from this pop model by driving many songs with harder, louder backing music. Imagine Celine Dion with Poison doing backing guitar.
Their new album 13 Stories High seems to have difficulty locating itself within any musical genre. Their lyrics which are meaningful and well written, combined with their considerable singing talent, ought to suggest a very similar style to the other artists mentioned. On 13 Stories High, most of their songs are unbalanced and a waste of their considerable talent.
A prime example is "The Life of Guns," easily the worst track on a mediocre album. It features an unsuccessful attempt to incorporate rock guitar into what should be a folk song. The situation is worsened by the vocals, which are strained in a desperate attempt to complement the guitar.
The album is considerably better when the songs are conducive to their writing style. The best song, "Attention," fits this description, because of its consistency. Unfortunately even these lighter songs are weighed down by poor backing and weak production. The entire CD sounds as though it was recorded in someone's garage, which may suit some styles of music, but not this one.
The tragedy of this is the band performs below their potential. With the poetic songwriting and the singing talents of vocalists David Robertson and Theresa McKay, their music should be vocally driven. The instrumentation should be geared towards accompanying their voices, not drowning them out.
With consistent, solid music and skilled production, these artists have the talent to make an excellent album. Sadly, 13 Stories High isn't.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999