What the critics are saying about "The Language Of Crows"
Jazz Magazine (France)
Top 10 discs of 1999
Cadence - August 2000 Vol. 26 No. 8 - page 106
Charles Ives is quoted on the liner card of this CD and he might have enjoyed this singular collection or altered hymns, children's rhymes, traditional songs and other unlikely selections. Lewis has a low, lush voice instead of the solemn soprano you might expect and that just emphasizes the quirky humanity of this session. It sounds very eerie when Lewis sings the old hymn "The Vacant Chair" over Carrothers' off-kilter piano or does childlike songs like "Doll House" and Savior Self" in a lush, sensuous voice. They put a lot of ill-fitting parts together in odd ways. There's even a German children's song done with whispered conversation and jangly piano. The only thing close to this is Ran Blake's occasional jaunts into Americana but this is even more sinister than his work, beautiful but subtly disturbing.
Wendy Lewis and Bill Carrothers are outcats. By combining impressionism with cynical humor, theyve come up with a cerebral session thats both pleasant in its linear form and adventurous through its added dimensions. A jazz pianist from Minneapolis, Carrothers likes to vary from expected mainstream harmony and dress up his accompaniment with dense atypical chords. His solo romps swing with a light-hearted sense that can only come through a love for the music. Lewis lyrics are articulated well enough and theyre printed in the liner booklet; however, the deeper meaning takes hold only after studying the duos performance.
"She must know whats good for me cause shes the one whos on t.v." for example, is a poke at daytime talk shows. We can easily identify with Lewis work because she deals with everyday topics. To supplement the vocal presentation, Carrothers inserts light jazz interludes that belie his true talents. A straight-laced "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" comes with cool jazz piano fills. The sordid tale of Lizzie Borden is offset with a swinging jazz piano center section. Even the spirituals contain quirky piano harmonic tricks; its as if Alfred Hitchcock had turned "Jesus Loves Me" into a feature-length film. An accurate singer with a pleasant voice offers head-turning, thought-provoking lyrics while the jazz pianist supplies adventuresome counterpoint. What a concept!
Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sunday Sept. 12 1999