on a good day…i am
Waterbug 88
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How does one explain a trio like Sons of the Never Wrong? Let’s start with the fact that its name is emblematic of its overall quirkiness. The “sons” are, in fact, two women (Sue Dernel and Deborah Maris Lader) and only one man (Bruce Roper). The offbeat album title—in lower case no less—befits the trio’s sensibilities, which are something akin to what you’d get if you stuck a Beat Poet, a Midwestern folk musician, and a nerd into a blender. Their three-part harmonies are cool, but twisted, a bit like what you’d get if you added a male voice to the McGarrigle sisters. I can’t think of another band that can be, simultaneously, so poignant and so off-kilter. “Head Over Heels,” for instance, is a love song dressed up as an act from a three-ring circus with Fellini-like imagery in the background. Roeper’s voice is, at turns, whimsical and filled with longing. And what on earth does one make of a song titled “Pablo Neruda” that implores us to approach poetry (and life) with Buddha-like deliberation, but also contains lines such as “Badah ba, badah ba?” To be fair, though, being in the moment and embracing life’s small but sublime moments is the major theme of these songs. “I am” opens the album with Roeper replacing self with the things he observes: a tree, heather, a sparrow, a chime, a piece of thread….

Those who know other Sons albums will not be surprised by any of this; the trio has always been a blend of poetry, New Age wonderment, inspired silliness, and mash-up musicianship. The biggest change instrumentally is the studio inclusion of Kairos Quartet, which adds cello, viola, and violin to the mix. Those discovering the Sons for the first time generally have one of two strongly held opinions: they either find them too weird, or they find them a blast of fresh air. Put me in the second camp. Check them out and see if you agree.--LV

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