Re-Meet Al Rose, the acclaimed musical chameleon who’ll be performing Sat. night!

Indeed, Saturday night we’ll be celebrating our 3rd annual Speech is Not Free festival. It will be so fun. You should come! (RSVP here — by donation!)

Yesterday we met Brenda Coultas, the accomplished poet who will be reading at the event. Today we’d like you to re-meet our great pal and brilliant songwriter Al Rose. Al will be performing on Saturday as well.

Now, when we say “re-meet” it’s because Al has performed here in the past. And when we said “chameleon” in the bloggy subject, we meant that in the figurative sense. (Unlike real chameleons, Al’s wardrobe generally relies on mostly earth tones.)

Al, of course, is a chameleon in the musical sense. Take a listen to his new disc, “Spin Spin Dizzy” and you’ll see what we mean.

Take the title track.  Behold the melodic gymnastics, soulful singing, and tasteful instrumentation. Then out of nowhere, a sharp left turn into slow-march, woozy Rainy Day Woman #13 & 35 territory (trombone included). It’s fun stuff. (Sample lyric: “You roped a steer like no one’s business.”)

Worse Came to Worse, meanwhile, has sweaty, R&B-y, rockin’ roadhouse vibe. Suddenly I’m transported to, like, Memphis. I can (figuratively) feel the cheap beer splashing on me on the dance floor. spinspindizzy

My favorite song is Sweet Bouquet. It sounds rather elitist of me, but I first heard him perform the tune in Paris, stripped down, with his pal Steve Doyle on accompanying guitar.

I was pleased to hear that my first impressions were accurate. The recorded version is a tender, floating, lilting tune carried by strong sparse imagery and elliptical lyrics:

Roll me over slower now and paint me in a corner
I’ll meet you in a century when both of us are born
Crawling in the forest / Forgiven by the trees
Lightning struck a blade of grass
Surrounded by the weeds

What’s more, it’s a disc that rewards with repeated listens. We realize that phrase is bandied about quite a bit nowadays, particularly in our iPod-ADD age, but in this case it’s true! Things start clicking hard around listen #4.

So we encourage you to buy it in physical form here and digital form here!

And of course, we also encourage you to check it out LIVE, this Saturday night, at the Henry Miller Library; doors at 6:30 pm.  Once again, RSVP here.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll get splashed by beer on the dance floor. Literally!!

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