Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Beat Poet Nova: The Sorrowjoy (Recording) Underwhelms

The Good: One or two lines are interesting
The Bad: Ambient music is a real mixed bag, Vocally unimpressive, Musically uninteresting
The Basics: Heather Nova's vocal presentation of The Sorrowjoy is a surprisingly tough sell from the usually fantastic singer-songwriter.

Last year, when Heather Nova began her PledgeMusic.com campaign, I put in a request directly with the artist for one of the items that could be bought to support the new album (which comes out this month!). One of the artifacts of hers that I have long sought is her book of poetry, The Sorrowjoy. I was pretty psyched when Nova responded by making available digital copies of the audio version of The Sorrowjoy. After listening to The Sorrowjoy, I am far less enthused and a little more trepedatious about actually ever getting my hands on one of the copies of her book.

The Sorrowjoy is a forty-four track album of Heather Nova reciting her poetry from The Sorrowjoy to ambient music. The music ranges from hints of a keyboard rendition of "Sugar" to back up Nova's abuse-themed poetry to computerized sounds to accompany a poem about the disconnect between the protagonist and her friends, despite having more communications devices.

Each of the forty-four poems is read by Heather Nova and part of my issue is with the performance (something I never thought I'd say about Nova!). Most of the lines are presented with surprisingly little emotion, so there is a droning quality to the recording that makes one envision a smoky, depressing, beat club with a chronically-depressed poet reciting in monotones to a bored audience. Between that and Nova pronouncing "capillaries" in a way I had never before heard, the recording is more off-putting than inspiring.

Thematically, The Sorrowjoy meanders from travel to relationships to memory poems and for an artist who has always captivated me with her lyrics, the surprise of the album is that none of the lines are so incredible as to stand out and be memorable. In fact, thinking of The Sorrowjoy, the only line I can instantly recall is one from an anecdote poem wherein the narrator's grandmother tells the narrator it is okay to live with a man before marriage, before abruptly changing her mind.

The result is an auditorily dull experience and the most complete dud Nova has ever produced. The Sorrowjoy might read better on the page, but as recited in The Sorrowjoy, Heather Nova completely fails to impress as a poet.

For other Heather Nova album reviews, please be sure to check out:
These Walls
Live From The Milky Way
The Jasmine Flower
300 Days At Sea
Live In Cologne 2/26/2014


For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for a comprehensive listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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