Lili Haydn

Place Between Places

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Lili Haydn has a dual identity. On the one hand she is the poster child for overly emotive singer/songwriters. That breathy voice, those "I'm so vulnerable" vocals, the oh so self-absorbed lyrics. Even "Satellites," which obliquely references war and Katrina, still revolves all around her and her love affair. On the weepy "Children of Babylon," Haydn wrings her hands, if only she could do something to help the poor Iraqis...but it's out of her hands, so that's that then. Incapable of action, invariably overcome by the intensity of her emotions, Haydn is adrift in a melancholy haze, like a depressive in desperate need of Prozac. But when she closes her mouth, or at least sings wordlessly, as she does beautifully on "Powers of Fire," all is forgiven. Which brings us to Haydn's other persona, that of a world-acclaimed violinist. Unlike her lyrics, her playing speaks volumes, filling the empty Place Between Places with music and atmospheres that truly resonate. Her arrangements are absolutely magical and her use of orchestral strings utterly awe-inspiring, as Haydn interweaves pop and classical, and smudges the album with Eastern and western tinges, all interlaced with a progressive rock flavor that harkens back to the creative peaks of the early '70s. The epic "Can't Give Everything," which swings between progressive passages and pop, is sheer brilliance, the title track a yearning masterpiece, the brief "Reverie" a delight, "The Last Serenade" a baroque triumph, and "Powers of Fire" as glorious as a final sunrise. Inevitably, though, her phenomenal version of P-Funk's "Maggot Brain" will excite the most attention, and deservedly so, as her soaring, swooping violin sweeps across the song. Often compared to Jimi Hendrix, here she surpasses the master. The touchy-feely crowd will surely relate to Haydn's first persona, but it's the second that makes this album an unforgettable affair.

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