Two artists that I have heard of for years but who I have never really listened to. This was described in the NPR music review as something The Decemberists might sing. And indeed, it has a very Decemberists feel to it (which makes sense as this is a traditional song and, evidently, Tabor has been a master of this style for years. ( I had no idea her voice was so deep–it adds a nice level of malice to this song about Napoleon.
The band is tight as they play this rollicking, dark shanty and Tabor’s voice is haunting (do I detect a similar style to Linda Thompson?) as she sings these lyrics of loss. The music builds and builds as the song reaches its climax, but what’s neat is that Tabor never really changes her tone. She is matter of fact, despite how sinister the music becomes. It’s a very cool song.
I did some research and found out that tabor and the Oysterband got together in 1990 for the album Freedom and Rain, which was a collection of traditional songs as well as covers of Richard Thompson, The Velvet Underground, The Pogues, and Jefferson Airplane (I can’t believe that album is pretty well out of print–it sounds amazing). This collaboration is more or less a follow-up, with more traditional songs and covers of PJ Harvey, Joy Division and others.
I’m really looking forward to listening to this disc and to what will certainly be the triumphant re-release of their first disc collaboration quite soon.
[READ: September 14, 2011] Storm Warning
Book Nine in the 39 Clues series made me feel like a kid again. I started reading it when I got home from work and I stayed up till way late in the night to finish it. Unlike when I was a kid, though, I am really suffering for staying up so late last night.
Storm Warning was written by Linda Sue Park, the first woman to write in the series. And, appropriately, this is a very female-centered book. We learn a lot about Nellie (finally, her story is explained!), the story focuses somewhat more on Amy than on Dan, there’s more evilness from Isabel Kabra, but most importantly, the clues lead them to two important women in history.
They head down to the Caribbean–although they are undecided about whether to go to the Bahamas or Jamaica (Dan wants to go to the Bahamas to go to the greatest water park in the world: Oceanus–which is really the Atlantis Water Park) but Amy believes the answer is in Jamaica. Dan convinces her and they decide to go to the Bahamas and the water park for a few hours of fun. But the crazy thing is that before they even bought their tickets to the Bahamas, Nellie went into the bathroom and Dan received a message that the Holts were on their way to the Bahamas too. Could Nellie be ratting them out?
On the flight down, they grill her about what’s going on. But what happens is that for the first time in the series, we get into Nellie’s head. Not completely, but we get to hear her thoughts. So we know that she’s still hiding some truths, but she reveals that she has been working for Mr McIntyre and reporting to him about all of the family’s moves. She was well paid for her services and she knew that there would be danger, but she had no idea exactly what the kids would be getting up to. Dan and Amy are stunned. They are betrayed and furious. [I have to say I think they totally overreacted--Nellie saved their asses many many times along the way]. They agree to let Nellie come along with them but they’re not going to share any plans with her.
While in the Bahamas they are given a clue that sends them to one of their most frightening locations yet–I wasn’t entirely sure how they would survive. But they do, with help from Nellie. And the clue leads them to Jamaica. It is here that the see a statue of The Right Excellent Nanny. She was the Nanny of the Maroons, and like Zulu in South Africa, she led the people with brilliant military tactics. There’s a neat clue here that the kids can’t figure out for most of the book, but the nice thing is that Dan calls Hamilton for with climbing a flag pole, and Hamilton provides (as long as they tell him what the clue is).
The other woman in the book is Anne Bonny, a pirate in the Caribbean. She worked with John “Calico Jack” Rackham on the pirate ship Revenge. She and Mary Read (who worked with Anne) are often said to be the only two women to be convicted of piracy (this is evidently not true though). (Both women appear in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but not the movies–while Calico jack appears as a skeleton in the 1st movie).
Then they meet someone who has dealt with their grandmother in the past and who is willing to help of Dan and Amy. They have met a lot of strangers who were willing to help them, but this was the most sensible to me, as the woman had asked Grace for a payment of some kind all those years ago if she was going to help the kids. And the payment was to help her grandson go to college.
That very grandson, Lester, also helps them find the final clue that they will need while in the area. But I have to say I was very unhappily surprised at the direction the story took when it came to this Lester. I’m not going to say any more than that, but I think that Park went too far here. I understand that it seems pretty important for what happens next, but I don’t think it had to happen at all. And while the rest of the book shows contrition and hand wringing over what happened, I think it was too much.
The end of the story ties up several loose threads. We learn about the man in black, we learn more about Nellie, and we learn all about the Madrigals. The end of this book was really powerful. Even though the series isn’t over yet and the next challenge seems like it will be impossible, this book ends with a great deal of catharsis.