I want to get this out of the way early, track nine on Des Moines chanteuse Roxi Copland’s new album is called “The Kids Aren’t Alright”. It is not just a song using a kind of easy cliché title. It is in fact a cover of The Offspring’s 1998 track about the decline of the younger generation. I love that song. When I first got the album and saw the track listing, I chuckled and thought to myself, “Hey, wouldn’t it be neat if it was The Offspring song?” And then it was. And it is neat. It is very obviously not going to be a direct cover, not with the artist we’re dealing with. However, it doesn’t veer into the Richard Cheese jokey, let’s turn a contemporary song into a jazz club, lounge singer standard and we’re all in on the joke. It is just a re-imagining of a song with a very stark premise with a heavy chord and turning it into something else. But man, it would’ve been awesome if she just snuck in a punk song. With her voice and skills, I think she could pull it off. Since she’s obviously a fan, I hope she gives it a try. What a good song.
Anyway, for those unfamiliar with Copland, she is a Des Moines native who spent a long time building her reputation in the club scene here. Her beautiful voice, jazz piano, and pop tendencies made her a favorite around here for years. The time spent in Des Moines built her reputation to a national scale, and some notoriety with jazz fans around the country and even around the world.
Her most recent album shows her stripped down with just her voice and piano to carry her. The result is an interesting blend of fifties lounge singer sultriness, 90’s female singer-songwriter and modern jazz-pop stylings. It is just her and her keys, with no other instrument interfering with the story she wants to tell. There were times that I thought it would’ve been interesting to have a bass or drum backing her, but she is charismatic enough that she carries the album by herself more than I think a lot of other artists could’ve done. Plus, the simplicity of the instrumentals (and I mean that not in the notes she plays, but in the arrangement) offers a more intimate recording.
There were times I wish I was still a smoker, because it seemed like the perfect album to listen to while sitting in a room full of rich Carolina. Like I mentioned, there are several tracks, such as, “Youthful Indiscretion” and “In Love With Trouble”, that seemed the type of song they play in movies when they want to introduce the sexy lounge singer and the hero sips scotch and makes eyes (or if it were a cartoon, a wolf would have his heart literally beat out of his chest). There is a gorgeous and brief scat at the end of “Youthful Indiscretion” that kind of has me picturing the eye contact a character like that would be making with the clientele of a sleazy joint that I‘ve created in my mind. Then it makes me miss smoking.
What’s interesting about the album though, is it sets you up with that vibe, but the next song “Perfect For Me” actually has a more contemporary vibe. At first listen, I thought it was a bit Randy Newman-ish. Simple lyrics, kind of jaunty keys. But the more I listen to it, the more it seemed like it could’ve been sung just as easily by Michael Buble. It actually has a bit of a similarity to his hit single “Just Haven’t Met You Yet.” The song “Play” also is really jaunty and actually a lot of fun.
The album ebb and flows between the classic and the contemporary. A lyric here and piano solo there that differentiates each track and provides a nice breezy and never boring album. What truly makes the album and gives each song its connection is Copland’s voice. She maintains the same style throughout, whether it’s the plight of urban decay or an opposites attract love story, her voice never wavers and makes it an interesting journey. At times I think she sounds a little like Tori Amos or Jewel, and at others she sounds completely original. It all kind of depends on the situation and the music she has behind her.
This isn’t normally the type of album I would gravitate towards, but I really enjoyed it as a change of pace. Oh, and an Offspring cover. Neat.
Try Not To Miss Shows – May 24- May 30
Dick Prall w/ The Honeydogs - Gas Lamp 10pm May 24
I talked a bit about Dick Prall last year, but he is a talented singer songwriter with a throwback pop-rock sound. Very recommended.
Hanwell w/ Love Songs For Lonely Monsters and Hill and Vale – Vaudeville Mews 530pm May 26
A couple of 80/35 vets playing an early show. All are awesome and so worth your time. Also, I am reminded that you should go vote for the 80/35 play in. You have until Friday.
David Liebe Hart Band w/ Ramona and the Swimsuits – Vaudeville Mews May 29 7pm
For those familiar with the Adult Swim show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, then you are familiar with David Liebe Hart. If you’re not familiar, get familiar. It is kind of genius.
Devil Makes Three – Wooly’s 9pm May 30
Folk Punk awesomeness from some of the best in the world.