Laura Stevenson and the Cans

“Master of Art” – Laura Stevenson & the Cans

I don’t tend to be very album-oriented here, as regular Fingertips visitors are well aware. I’m just looking for good (free and legal) songs week to week. I don’t seek albums; if nothing else, I just don’t have much time to listen to them.

Every now and then, however, I manage to let my guard down. An album slips through. I listen, get drawn in, and, sometimes, at least temporarily, am returned to those ancient days when that was how we processed music—album by album. Not even sure how I happened to decide to sit and listen to the entire Laura Stevenson and the Cans album, Sit Resist, but I’m really glad I did. Stevenson’s isn’t the kind of musical personality—and, to my discredit, I’ve almost forgotten such people existed—that is fully contained within the context of any one particular song. With her kittenish voice—happy with songs that swing, whisper, or stomp—and her tendency to call upon noise or gentleness from her band at a moment’s notice, she really comes to life in the context of an album’s worth of songs.

That said, “Master of Art” is itself a terrific effort, and a good introduction to what she’s up to, showing off both her pensive and her ardent sides in one four-minute package. The intro’s Phil Spector beat surely got my attention (I’m a sucker for the Phil Spector beat), but the song doesn’t wallow in it, using it as a springboard rather than a crutch. I’m still absorbing the lyrics but I think it was when I heard her sing, “You should know/That I am often difficult” (1:11) that I knew she had me. The depth of character in her voice there is unteachable.

“Master of Art” is no internet sensation, no technology-friendly song-as-trinket to engage those attracted, like crows, only to shiny things they can dive for and tweet about. Above and beyond the solid songwriting (and of course you do need really good songs), there’s something genuine going on here, something homemade and unprocessed that’s incredibly heartwarming. The album comes out later this month on Don Giovanni Records and I wholeheartedly recommend it.