Friday, November 23, 2012

Grazyna Auguscik - Man Behind The Sun (2012)

Grazyna Auguscik

Grażyna Auguścik - śpiew
Rob Clearfield - fortepian, fortepian Fendera, Wurlitzer
Matt Ulery - kontrabas
Jon Deitemyer - perkusja
John McLean - gitary

Man Behind The Sun (2012)

By Rafał Garszczynski (excerpts from linear notes)

Observing Grazyna Auguscik’s musical path has been a fascinating experience. It’s a tale of a modest (to date) girl from Slupsk (Poland), who learnt to play the guitar at a local music school. At the end of the 70s she decided to give singing a go. (...) For a singer in her early thirties (nothing personal!), the decision to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston came quite late. She was probably the oldest in her group and most likely the best or very good, anyway.(...) For years Grazyna has been cooperating with young musicians from Chicago. If the opportunity arises, she sits in with big names, such as Jim Hall, John Medeski, Michel Brecker or Patricia Barber. (...) 

Nick Drake is a diamond in the rough. True, Bob Dylan is a household name and a great poet, but there are also others who, despite not having carved for themselves a successful career of parallel magnitude, certainly deserved one. Part of the legend of many an acclaimed musician is their short or tumultuous life, as was the case of Tim Hardin or Tim Buckley, both American, and the only Briton in the pantheon of rock poets, Nick Drake. What’s the difference between American and British folk, or, rather, what makes Nick Drake stand out? Far from relying on lyrics alone, he writes exceptional music as well. In his works the melody complements the lyrics and evokes a dark, desolate mood with powerful instrumental support and complex, nonobvious arrangements. (...)

Grazyna’s ideas for Nick Drake’s compositions are extraordinary. The fact that there have been very few attempts to take on his works over last forty years is a testimony to how complex the material is. Highly intimate on both the musical and lyrical level, his songs are also very much bound to a specific time and place and as such, despite exploring universally understood, timeless concepts, might be difficult to interpret by a different performer. Musically, they pose a challenge as well, the songs cannot be simply sung without being dissected, understood and reinterpreted so that they respond to who is singing them, even if that means altering the original emotion. 

Nick Drake is considered by many to be the saddest poet of contemporary music. However, to be able to penetrate the listeners’ souls and move their hearts you have to resort to powerful means of expression. Nick Drake mastered this skill forty years ago and now Grazyna Auguscik is excelling at it. So much so that I keep wondering if the songs on Man Behind The Sun aren’t better than the original. What’s certain is that they are equally personal and overflowing with contagious emotions. The album delivers a true musical feat, which is a rare achievement in this ever-changing reality. Man Behind The Sun is highly-addictive so consider yourselves warned… 

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