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Lavender Diamond - Incorruptible Heart

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Artist: Lavender Diamond

Album: Incorruptible Heart

Label: Paracadute

Review date: Sep. 24, 2012

The phrase “I’d watch him read the phone book,” is, I think, meant to be about someone so compelling as an actor that the mere act of listing names will hold one’s attention rapt. (I’m hedging my bets with “I think” because maybe it’s that the person is so attractive one will tolerate the list of names to get a glimpse of a hunk or a babe.) I get it — I’ve been in the presence of people whose charisma is so strong it’s like a black hole. A friend happened to be sitting next to Phillip Seymour Hoffman at the Brooklyn Music Academy recently for a film screening, and he said that just watching him eat Peanut M&Ms was fascinating.

While I don’t know if I’d tolerate Becky Stark, lead singer of Lavender Diamond, simply singing a list of names or chewing HFCS-snacks on mic, her voice is so beautiful and captivating that I’d certainly sit around listening to her sing about awful things like Ayn Rand or explain why we should vote for Mitt Romney. That’s how beautiful her voice is, and even if Lavender Diamond’s lovely second album Incorruptible Heart would have been a musically inept, right-wing screed stumping for us to repeal Obamacare, it would still be a charming work of music. (It is an album about love.)

In a weird way though, I wonder if Stark’s alluring voice is a detriment, to her development as an artist. Jon Hamm guest starred on 30 Rock a few times as Liz Lemon’s love interest, and in one episode (“The Bubble”), it’s revealed that because Hamm’s character is so handsome, he’s never developed any other skills as a person and coasts through life because other people don’t correct him. In the same way, I wonder if Stark’s vocal ability and the beauty of her voice are an impediment.

I say this because Incorruptible Heart really is a wonderful album and something beautiful to listen to, but I find myself having a very difficult time emotionally connecting to it. One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is broad vs. specific in art. A lot of artists — be they writers, musicians or comedians — eschew the specific in order to try and connect with a larger audience. Keep it generalized and more people will be able to understand what you’re saying and where you’re coming from. However, it is often in the specific, in the parts of one’s experience that aren’t 100 percent relatable, that a deeper, emotional universality is found, which is something I couldn’t find on Incorruptible Heart.

Perhaps that’s not the point though, and like an art object that’s meant to be captivating in and of itself, we should just enjoy the album as something sublime.

By Andrew Beckerman

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Find out more about Paracadute

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