Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jakob Dylan & Neko Case - 9:30 Club, 4/23/10

Images, then sounds. Jakob's wide-brimmed hat. Bleached out photos of a midwestern field behind the stage. The entire band dressed in suits (some with pocket squares and pocket chains). Neko in a red dress, Kelly in black.

Jakob's voice was strong, his phrasing direct. The new album hadn't blown me away, but live the songs came into their own. Neko threatened to steal the show on multiple occasions - and the crowd cheered her on.

And yes, there was a sameness to the sound throughout. Jakob lacks his dad's restless sense of discovery of roots music - there's no deep assimilation of pre-war blues. But he's above all a poet, and can create songs of staggering beauty and depth and urgency. And sometimes that's more than enough.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Colm Toibin - Brooklyn

So I finished Brooklyn yesterday, sitting at a table in the basement of my law school's library. I thought the book was solid, well-written, but ultimately nothing extraordinary.

Toibin writes very solid sentences that hold together well, but as rich and textured and detailed as his descriptions were, I really didn't _feel_ Brooklyn or Ireland came alive quite enough. The protagonist, a young girl who doesn't quite know who she is or what she wants was, I think, part of the problem - I found myself neither surprised by nor interested in what happened to her. She felt flat and as a result the book felt a bit flat.

But the descriptions of Ireland were amazing and it was an interesting glimpse into the world of someone torn between two countries. Though it had nowhere near the level of complexity and feeling you get from similarly displaced characters in a Jhumpa Lahiri short story.