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JFH Staff Review


Levi The Poet, Correspondence (A Fiction)
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Levi The Poet
Correspondence (A Fiction)



Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Spoken Word / Indie
Album length: 12 tracks: 39 minutes, 48 seconds
Street Date: November 17, 2014


Wes Anderson is an absurdist comedic film director most noted for films like The Royal Tennenbauns and Fanstastic Mr. Fox, but also for the quaint pubescent love story, Moonrise Kingdom. Herman Melville was a 19th-century sailor and author most known for his American whaling classic, Moby Dick. The combination of inspirations is indeed an odd one, but what else would we expect from an artist like Levi The Poet, most known for his organized chaos delivery of breathtaking, guttural spoken word pieces? That said, even this is a departure for Levi, whose body of work up to this point has been completely autobiographical, as Levi has created a rich concept album complete with a swirling and ethereal score provided by the talented soundmaker Alex Sugg of Glowhouse (with whom Levi has collaborated before).

Correspondance (a fiction) is a story told through letters between young lovers. The daughter of a hard-drinking whaling captain is brought on a long voyage, as her beloved is left on shore to build the couple's treehouse they planned together. Their letters are carried back and fourth via the girl's father's discarded alcohol bottles. Within those letters, the two of them shared their memories, experiences, and philosophical and theological musings. The setting of the story in a bit inconclusive, as references to more recent topics as John Wayne, baseball, and The Princess Bride don't seem to mesh with the obvious parallels to Moby-Dick (which is itself referred to at one point in the story). That combined with such fantastically coincidental elements as messages in bottles working as effective communication, and the story requires some suspension of disbelief in order to really get involved in the whimsical tale (if "whimsical" is the correct term for a tale as sobering and ultimately tragic as this). But thankfully, Levi taps into nostalgia and human emotion enough that suspension of disbelief is not difficult to attain.

Those familiar with Levi's past work will inevitably be surprised (probably pleasantly) at the inclusion of a true musical accompaniment to Levi's deliveries. With music to work with and to set the tone, Levi can rely less on portraying a vast range of emotions with his voice, and the result is a far less chaotic-sounding poet creating a sound far more accessible to the average listener than his music-free rants of Monologues. Indeed, going in with my ears bracing for a strong vocal barrage, I was tempted to be disappointed with Levi's relative mellowness. Thankfully, the work is too strong overall to be disappointing.

Correspondence does not disappoint writing-wise either. Opening with a tender barrage of fond retrospection in "Chapter One: When Hearts Are Large," the listener is immediately brought into the emotional plight of the whole story ("My love, when we first set sail and pushed off to sea, I stood at the bow looking backward, dry-eyed and imagining that the world, in all its color, grandeur and majesty, had been devastated by the same sort of flood I'd seen when I told you that my father was making me leave."). Loneliness, isolation, regret, and forgiveness are common themes for the album, coming in strongest in tracks like "Chapter Three: The Great American Game," and "Chapter Eight: White Whales Like Black Plagues" (the only chapter written from the perspective of the girl's father). But the album's finest moment occurs in "Chapter Six: Traditional Values Worldview," where the girl meets a mystic who, all too reminiscent of the shallow, conservative, evangelical stereotype, says "her feet were evil because they'd touched the ground, ears guilty by association because they'd heard the sound, with a mind, wicked, that wandered and wondered about music, sex, love and the men in the town below." The girl's response is the joyous high point of the album.

Alas, the conclusion of the story is a tragic one, although hope is still present in force. Levi may never be the most cheery artist you'll come across, but he is as honest, transparent, and realistic as one could hope for from an artist. Time will tell what type of response Correspondence will ultimately receive, but by all rights, it needs to get noticed. And this album contains all the tools necessary for it to do so; a compelling story, an emotive score, superb writing, excellent delivery, and thoughtful content. Levi the Poet has never been so easy to love.

- Review date: 12/18/14, written by Mark Rice of Jesusfreakhideout.com

 

JFH Staff's Second Opinion



It's a niche market, but when someone comes along and does spoken word - and does it well - you can't help but notice. Propaganda does it well, Bradley Hathaway did it well, and then, of course, there's New Mexico's Levi the Poet, who is taking the "does it well" thing to the next level. Levi introduced a musical element to his last album, Seasons, and it worked very well. So the inclusion of music on his newest piece of work, Correspondence (a fiction), was almost a given. And this time, all of the music you hear was written and recorded by fellow New Mexican Alexander Sugg (an accomplished musical artist in his own right), who works under the name Glowhouse. Sugg brings more life to Levi's words, as he helps the listener get into the mood of what the character in each track is feeling as he or she speaks. Now, as the album title suggests, this is a fictional tale of two young lovers separated by outside forces beyond their control, and their attempts at keeping their love alive in the face of despair by corresponding through letters in a bottle (as the young girl was dragged to sea by her sea-faring father who had all but given his life to alcohol). It's a wonderfully-written tale, and it deals a lot with young love and the impending doom that is uncertainty; uncertainy as to whether or not these two are ever going to see each other again. Despite the depth contained in this album, it's actually quite a bit more mellow than previous releases, with almost no screaming at all (save for maybe two phrases on the entirety of the album). This is one of Levi's finest releases; if you're a fan of his or a fan of wonderful storytelling, this is an album for you. And while you're at it, go check out some of Glowhouse's material. - Review date: 11/24/14, Scott Fryberger

 

. Record Label: None
. Album length: 12 tracks: 39 minutes, 48 seconds
. Street Date: November 17, 2014
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: AmazonMP3

  1. Chapter One: When Hearts Are Large (2:32)
  2. Chapter Two: Tombstone Love Note (2:33)
  3. Chapter Three: The Great American Game (4:12)
  4. Chapter Four: Rooster Cogburn in Indian Territory (2:57)
  5. Chapter Five: Tuxedo Black (4:04)
  6. Chapter Six: Traditional Values Worldview (4:19)
  7. Chapter Seven: Orphan Theism (2:10)
  8. Chapter Eight: White Whales Like Black Plagues (3:09)
  9. Chapter Nine: Cap Gun Death (2:59)
  10. Chapter Ten: [Like Cushions] (1:13)
  11. Chapter Eleven: Cul-De-Sac Colonies (5:01)
  12. Chapter Twelve: Shores, and the New World (4:39)

 



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