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Pink and Blue
Artist: Waterdeep
URL: http://www.waterdeep.com    http://www.myspace.com/waterdeepmusic 
Label: indie 
Time: 13 tracks / 38:13
 
Waterdeep… OK – I always disliked that name, which is a big part of the reason why I never bothered to get into these guys. I thought they’d just be another pseudo-alternative, faceless Christian band with a weird name. I guess I was wrong. Here’s Pink and Blue, the new CD (or double-EP) by Waterdeep, and I’m very, very impressed. 
 
These days, I suppose it’s safe to say that Waterdeep is Don and Lori Chaffer plus whatever musicians they assemble. In this case they’ve come up with regular Waterdeep drummer, the Ringo-esque Brandon Graves and ex-Frampton (yes – that Frampton, like in Peter Frampton!) bassist, Stan Sheldon, who adds a fat, warm classic-rock bass sound to the songs. The other basics - guitars and pianos – are rounded out by ‘the five sisters who sang background vocals,’ synths and tastefully funky violins. If this sounds like they used whatever instruments were at hand, well – yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like. The music has a child-like quality but is played with intelligence and a true rock/pop/alternative edge.
 
If the words ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ conjure up images of babies – girls and boys, respectively – that’s not surprising. This project was ‘born’ in a fairly domesticated atmosphere, Don and Lori being the married parents of two children. Pink and Blue proves that stability and family don’t necessarily dull the edge of rock and roll – in fact, a big part of this project’s charm (especially on Lori’s songs) is the child-likeness that lends a pure energy to the proceedings. 
 
The ‘pink’ EP features seven tracks by Lori Chaffer, whose very up-front vocals evoke fragility and innocence (but not without a bit of mischief thrown in) but are always delivered with command and intelligence. Bjork, Sara Groves and Over the Rhine’s Karin Bergquist come to mind, both in vocal timbre and style, when listening to Lori’s vocals – an impressive trio of influences, to be sure! The one minute-plus “Do the Dance” starts off the set with Bjork-like vocals backed by a simple acoustic guitar accompaniment. “Life of the Party” steps up the tempo with an alternative-pop song that sounds a bit like a Superchick number if that band (forgive me) delivered smarter material. Lori delivers child-like observations on life on songs like “Oh,” which features vocals full of fun and exploration and some nice, atmospheric, sparse piano work. Big salvos of full band and violins (think Dexys Midnight Runners) open the bouncy, engaging, melodic “Accidents Happen,” while “Lying in History,” with its haunting viola, guitars, and tack-piano create a gypsy camp vibe with a melody weaving in and out of minor chords, sounding like it’s right out of the Over the Rhine songbook.
 
A bit closer to a traditional rock sound, Don Chaffer’s Blue EP gives us five alternative/indie/pop tracks and one strongly written ballad. The vocals on these songs range from the David Byrne / Talking Heads sound on “Right Before,” to the more intimately-sung “My Second Try,” which closes the album. In between these songs we have one instrumental, “Enter Magician,” which sounds engagingly like surf music from outer space, and three other well-crafted, fun-to-listen-to songs with an alternative-pop edge. “Okay, Okay, Yeah” and “You’ll Be Fine,” the middle pair of songs from Don’s set, are strongly melodic and have hooks to spare: of special note is the thunderous drum break and memorable riff leading to the clean ending of “Okay, Okay, Yeah,” and the unexpected turn-around bridge in “You’ll Be Fine.” “I Rolled Into New Year’s Eve” shows strong traditional songwriting skills from Don as he gives us a good, well-structured ballad accompanied by a nice smoky combo, heavy on the brushes, piano, bass and guitar. The album ends in a similar musical vein to Jon Foreman’s recent solo work, with “My Second Try,” an intimately-arranged singer/songwriter effort.
 
The production on this project is clean and uncluttered, with nice up-front vocals and all instruments properly represented in the mix. The sound is organic with a touch of eclecticism. The musicianship on _Pink and Blue_ is always on-track and tasteful, with a strong sense of fun. This bouncy, quirky music is possessed by a childlike spirit: not music for children, but music made by people with the spirit of children coming through in their art. It’s all the difference between pandering and being – Don and Lori Chaffer and friends, aka Waterdeep, have found the secret of harnessing the wild-child spirit of rock and roll and channeling it through music for grown-ups. They say, ‘the child is father to the man’ – why not complete the circle and let the man become the child again?
 
Pink and Blue by Waterdeep. Dive in.
 
Bert Saraco
http://www.myspace.com/expressimage     
http://expressimagephoto.tripod.com 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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