“The hours I’ve spent in conversation with women in my community, engaged with students in my classroom and my own children, are all propelling this desire to get the message of these songs out there.”
Even if you didn’t speak the same language, Seattle artist Connor Desai gets her point across on guitar and that moisturizer of a voice. Her latest release, the acoustic, four-track Sister, is a response to a new, controversial President and a world climate of unrest.
“The more I observe, the more I see that this outcome is not that surprising,” the folk-poet said in a press release from Big Freak Media, for her fourth major recording. “Our new president is a product of man’s government, we can’t deny what sort it’s made.”
Sister features Desai’s quiet, enchanting voice, smoothing everything over like the “Lullaby” she leaves behind. In every tune, whether it’s hers or a revamped cover for the times (“O Holy Night”), Desai feels her way through some very tough emotions in some very tough circumstances.
A lot of what she sings is what we don’t say in polite conversation, yet still remains politely said. She’s an artist in every sense of the word — her hands create music and art, they show love and progression, whether it’s onstage or as a part-time elementary music school teacher.
Her music is always full of soft, lush melody, as if birthed from the bottom of the sea, and her words are just as well-meaning, falling softly, hushed, a blanket of snow or tulip petals on a February, breaking up the dawn of another rush hour.
Even when tackling hard subjects, feminism, abortion, “all we have in common are these kids,” hardship, getting behind a movement driven by love and justice, Desai chooses to be kind, easing into the movements, the moments of clarity, enlightenment, forward, collective thought.
Her voice and her style invite nice and easy, quiet and pleasant conversation, the give and take of a backyard barbecue on a summer night, among friends, where the atmosphere’s always warm, non-threatening. She never raises her voice or storms the lyrical rhythms for her social messages.
It’s often hard to believe there are social messages embedded in these tracks, because she’s so easy to listen to. She plays them subliminally, so it’s easy getting lost in the lovely swirling music. No matter the political inclination or genre preference, listening to her folk poetry pour out is like putting on moisturizer after trekking through the desert.
“The hours I’ve spent in conversation with women in my community, engaged with students in my classroom and my own children, are all propelling this desire to get the message of these songs out there,” she added.
The most effective social message on this record happens to be a classic Christmas hymn, “O Holy Night.” While her original “Killing The One Who Believed In Your Love” swirls and twirls within itself on pretty much the same melodic values as to almost be a first draft, her one recognizable cover shines like a rare jewel in a cluttered drawer.
The first track on the record, “O Holy Night” catches your ear, and tugs at your soul, as she flickers the candle in her hopeful, childlike voice on that radio-nostalgic reverbed guitar. She handles the impossible majesty of that cliffhanger of a high note with a sense of divine providence, gently guiding the Christ-focused hymn toward the Madonna and her child, and their holy communion. (She’s a mother herself, so she understands.) It’s a far better way to convey compassion, and most effective wrapped around Desai’s innate ability to catch a hook and gently squeeze.
“Lullaby,” in a sense, is Desai’s original “O Holy Night” and the last track. Her downward-sloping vocals is reminiscent of the tunes from her more pop-friendly, June 8, 2010 album, Use Your Hands. “Lullaby” actually sounds a lot like the title track of that album, in the melodic ebb and flow of a lyrical kind of self-hypnosis.
Artist quotes from Chris Estey, Big Freak Media.