Friday, August 25, 2006

That Chicago house sound: Peven Everett's new album

Ok, I am officially, unadulteratedly, devotedly "a fan."

Earlier this year I thought that Peven Everett had literally come out of nowhere to take over the house music scene with his playful, joyful, syncopated and funky track "Stuck." I spent weeks trying to get the "you... got... me... in... your... pow-wah, I can't decide... which... way, I'm STUCK" chorus and the additional layered scattery vocal hooks, whoa's, huh's, a-ha's, and com'on y'all's that made it such a distinctive track. No wonder the UK's powerhouse Defected picked it up for their Soul Heaven imprint and released it back in April!

Turns out though that Peven actually had a multi-album history (well, ok, a two-album history, including Studio Confessions and Latest Craze, Part. 1) and has a background that includes jazz and classical music schooling which explains his intricate melodic wit.

Well, ad one more record to the turntable: A couple of weeks ago I went over to pick up Ms. Jody Watley's new (and, sad to say, disappointing) CD and lo and behold my heart skipped a beat when I saw a brand new Peven Everett CD on display called Easy Livin' (on the independent Unified Records). The ten tracks here are more subdued and not as immediately catchy as "Love This Way," "Latest Craze" or "See Saw" (all from Latest Craze). It is also darker with formerly subdued themes of longing and desire threatening to take over the beats. The gorgeous "Don't You" is a sultry love letter to a woman on the verge of rejecting a man, "Steady Now" is an insistent plea for stability in a relationship and the title track asks a girl to let things flow after an initial meeting.

Over at Everett's myspace page, there's mention of an non-authorized "representative" making the rounds and in March he told the Chicago Sun-Times "There is such a lack of respect from companies to musicians. They don't understand that they need to work with the musicians, not that the musicians are working for them. It's with, not for" so perhaps some of these professional tensions color the mood of the new album.

Then again, maybe not. Everett tells the Sun Times that this is a "therapeutic" CD targeted specifically at 'power women:' "It's about their style of winding down... It is for women, but when women hear it, I want them to understand men." Hm, ok? It's still a stunner.

Stunning too that the biggest hit of his career, "Stuck," is also not on the CD (though I'm not sure it fits within the conceptual angle of this album). I initially had wondered if the track might have been kept from this set due to whatever contract Everett signed with Defected (yes, I think about these things way too much), but the Sun Times indicates something more intriguing might be at play: Apparently this the first of two Everett releases this year!

The next one will be called "Power Soul" and be, not surprisingly, on Defected (Everett says that it combines "elements of speed rock with soul music" and is "geared for people who like faster stuff, but who still want to be soulful").

That the Sun Times column on which the interview ran is one generally devoted to hip-hop, shows how difficult it is to categorize, much less find outlets for this type of music in the United States. Even in dance music circles,
DJ Tiesto-type trance techno crap is what gets trumpeted and promoted big time. Let's hope there is some room for the Peven Everetts of this world to conquer at the very least some parts of the universe.


miss wild thing said...

You have a turntable????

Anonymous said...

Studio Confessions is a really great album. I bought it out of curiosity when it came out and it's grown on me big time. I bought Easy Livin' last week and have been really getting into it as well. Looking forward to another release this year.

The Jody album looked busted in the store. As much as I like her and respect her talent, I'm always wary of folk releasing albums that consist of remakes of their own hits from 20 years ago. I guess it's the only way she can get a record deal or something, which is too bad. I was really impressed by her energy and talent when I saw her perform last year after not seeing her for a few years. Her set included some of her old tracks updated/remixed, which was fine for a show, but I'm not really feeling to buy it. Especially when the album also includes an unnecessary remake of Diana Ross's Love Hangover! Sorry, Jody.