The Clouds / Stuart Hyatt

The Clouds

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Although Stuart Hyatt will be billed as the artist for this CD in the few places that list such things, he in fact was the composer of the music, but not a featured performer. These gospel-toned songs are actually sung by members of the community, ranging in age from children to grandparents, in Sumter County, AL. The material was recorded there in October 2003, when Hyatt did a residency at the Coleman Center in the Alabaman town of York. It's a curious record, sounding a little more like the outcome of a school project than a commercial release. (And looking more like one, too, packaged in a folding piece of cardboard, with a "cloud," or piece of cotton, stuck on the front.) The material mixes gospel, light lo-fi pop, down-home rural blues, and children's music in various doses, vocalized by unprofessional singers with a wide-eyed naïve feel. The delivery's complemented by the songs themselves, which have a crudely uplifting, homespun air akin to a church service that's written by the congregation instead of following a rigid, institutionalized text. There's some ragged charm to this short (24-minute) album, but it's the sort of thing that seems like it must have been more fun and satisfying to make than it is to hear.

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