Album Review

Vagabond Opera – “Zeitgeist Beckons, The” – [Vagabond Opera]

ArtCrimes   6/3/2009   CD, International

Vagabond Opera, based in Portland, combines florid, operatic singing styles (male and female), humor, drama, and multi-ethnic musical styles (accordeon often is deployed); the result yields somewhat fragmented cabaret-style act, but unquestionably it’s well-played and sung. This is their third release and definitely is their most ambitious and best produced. A variety of covers gives a good idea of some of their influences: here they do songs by Tom Waits (5), Jacques Brel (12), and Raymond Scott (11), as well as songs sung in more languages than this reviewer could easily determine (Italian, French, Oshtal, & Yiddish among them). Some of the original songs have the feel of show tunes with lots of grand narrative (3, 14)… although the band does stitch together a bit of a story in the accompanying booklet to suggest that a saga is being told, but it’s mainly an opportunity for bandmembers to dress up. Tracks 2 and 13 are somewhat self-referential and would be better experienced in the context of a live performance than on the air. Tracks 6, 8, and 11 are instrumentals. (crimes)

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