Damn Everything but the Circus

Meet My Love: Caveat: If you can’t take hearing the words, “God damn” you’d better wait until my next post. Damn Everything But The Circus from the album Grace in Gravity, Green Linnet / Elektra Entertainment, 1992 Jonatha Brooke, vocals /acoustic guitar, composer Jennifer Kimball, vocals

How We Met: Clarence Smith, one of my best friends, introduced me to this fantastic duo in 1993 while we were both teachers at Paseo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts in Kansas City, MO.  We have followed them, then Jonatha when she went solo in 1994, and have been devoted fans ever since.  I’ve not met too many friends I am as musically compatible with as I am with Mr. Smith and with the exception of a few small quibbles over Steely Dan and Prince we usually see eye to eye 😉  well done Clarence!

Getting to Know You: Jonatha Brooke is a singer-songwriter born in Illinois whose music is classified as Folk, Pop, Rock.  I classify it as wonderful to listen to and well crafted.  Jonatha also plays the guitar as well as sings; not easy  to pull off my friends but she manages very well.   In 1981, she teamed up with Jennifer Kimball when they were both attending Amherst College in Massachusetts and after two releases, Grace in Gravity and The Angel in the House, went their separate ways in 1994; unfortunate for us.  For more background about both albums as discussed by Jonatha visit her website:  http://www.jonathabrooke.com/music/the-story/. Jonatha eventually started her own record label, Bad Dog Records in 1999,  so producer was then added to her previous list of achievements (singer, songwriter, composer and arranger). I read that Jonatha believes the only way to acquire and keep an audience is through extensive touring which she continues to date.

Endearing Qualities: I think Jonatha is terribly adept at making her melodies and lyrics sound as if they were born at the very same time.    In this piece the extra bonus of a beautifully written countermelody helps to drive home the sincere desire of a young girl to get the hell outta her small town.   The lyrics validate what I assume is a stereotypical sentiment shared by many youngsters aspiring to do more than let their small town suck’em dry of any hopes or aspirations they may have; and with the ringmaster telling her she’ll “be magic” why not take this opportunity before it and life passes her by?  Unfortunately, I’m not so sure she’ll be happy with the reality of life in the circus considering it doesn’t sound any more grand what with the animal smells, flea bitten horses, rain and holey fishnets Brooke mentions. Jonatha and Jennifer’s voices are so well matched and they are brilliant at skillfully delivering  harmonies and unisons (often the most difficult thing to do vocally) effortlessly and completely in tune; a feat these days to say the least.  Once you listen to this you may wonder how some of the bits being passed off and heralded as good music receive any airplay at all.  This is top-notch artistry. For a much more in-depth biography visit:  http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004699/Jonatha-Brooke.html.

First Impressions: What do you think?  Post your comments below.

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