Fingertips Flashback: Tessitura (from December 2005)

This week we flash back to December 2005, and a solo effort from a member of Cincinnati’s fine, ongoing ensemble, the Spectacular Fantastic. A lovely song, worth hearing again, or for the first time.


“Nervous” – Tessitura

[from “This Week’s Finds,” December 11-17]

Jonathan Williams sings in a warm, buzzy voice, rendered warmer and buzzier by his fetching tendency to sing in octave harmonies with himself. He further accompanies himself with clean, patient acoustic guitar licks; there’s something of Pink Floyd’s stately acoustic side in the air here, particularly when Williams spins out a line with such a haunting convergence of melody and lyric as this one: “Even in a dream/Things could seem far too real.” There, I think, we arrive at the song’s center of gravity, its point of pure allurement–it’s not just the nice chord he reaches on the word dream, it’s the way the word “dream” stretches out almost unaccountably, with a mysterious, standing-still sort of rising and falling. This is a real song, not just a guy with a nice voice strumming a nice guitar. (Not enough people these days seem to be able to differentiate between beautiful-sounding and actually beautiful, says me, and there we are yet again back at Ives’ great distinction between manner and substance, but I’ll steer clear of that particular soapbox for now.) Tessitura is a side project for Williams, who is otherwise a member of the fine, endearingly-named Cincinnati-based ensemble The Spectacular Fantastic. “Nervous” is a song on a new free-to-download split single featuring both bands; it can also be found on Tessitura’s recently released free-to-download full-length CD, On the Importance of Being Confused.

ADDENDUM: Seemingly impossible to find out any new information on Williams. Tessitura appears to have been a one-off effort. But I still love this song, should’ve been much more widely heard. Fortunately, it’s not too late.

ADDENDUM 2: Actually, I heard from Williams in August 2011, and he informs me that Tessitura remains alive, that he writes and records regularly, although has been more often playing in the band For Algernon in recent years. He was however getting ready for his first official gig as Tessitura later that month. So he’s definitely still around.

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