Do What You Say I Can't"
The Howard Fishman Quartet
me about beauty and I'll tell you about the Howard Fishman
Quartet. Moody, dangerous, ancient, modern, ruthless, longing,
explosive, and quiet: the band incorporates varied aspects
of life in its songs. Part story-telling, part emotional
playing; the songs prove infectious as you are caught up
in their web. This is their third CD, and "Do What
I Want" just might make you do what they want.
The CD is a break from their previous efforts; it appears
the devil got his paws in on this one. The music seems moodier,
edgier, and - dare I say - groovier. The band is definitely
experimenting on "Do What I Want," and incorporates
guest musicians playing electric guitars, electric organs,
and drums. "Heresy" some of you are saying. This
is the Howard Fishman Quartet: band of traditionals, Appalachian-inspired
tunes, and southern old-time-feel music.
Well, this isn't Kansas anymore (or Louisiana for that
matter). Though they have brought along their trademark
sound, these are not the same-old songs you are expecting.
While retaining elements of their past, this music is a
departure from their norm. They're not leaving their sound
behind, but they are flexing their muscles here, exploring
new territories; so let's enjoy the ride.
Song arrangements are different; song tempos vary a lot
and vary suddenly. It creates a different vibe for the band
from their previous flowing-feel. They have rollicking songs
("Weary Blues"), groovy (I know, but it is groovy)
songs ("Get Some Rest"), and softer ballad-types
("In Another Life" and "A New Life").
The wit and playfulness of the some of the lyrics still
remains. The first song, "Good Times" starts with:
"You've been in all my dreams, but they haven't been
bad, I've been thinking about all about the good times,
that you and I never had." Of course, the lyrics have
always been important to the music, sometimes feeling like
you're in the confessional with the sinner, other times
hearing a story told on a rickety old front porch. Either
way, Howard's voice (teasing and raw) is still the voice
of a salt-of-the-earth man not understanding life - or understanding
it too well.
But for this band, the music has always been the power.
Russell Farhang (violin), Jonathan Flauger (double bass),
and Erik Jekabson (trumpet) don't disappoint this time around
either. They still jam while trying new things. The quartet
is a tight band.
"Do What I Want" is a strong album, contrary
to what you'd expect from such a varied make-up of songs
and different styles. It will not disappoint the quartet's
previous fans; but it will attract new ones.
The Howard Fishman Quartet plays free every Thursday night
at Pete's Candy Store. More information can be found at
-- Grant Moser