A few minutes ago, I visited the site of the local alternative weekly paper (The City Weekly) and cast my vote in the yearly Slammy awards. Each year, the paper takes votes on the best of Salt Lake City in regards to music, arts, and comedy. Sometimes the results are right on (see Starmy and Redd Tape in past years’ best artist), and sometimes… well, the most diplomatic way of stating it is that the winners must’ve had very large families. This year, I voted for some of my usuals (I always vote for Tolchock Trio in the Best Band and Best Album of the year), and was about to just skip over the categories I’m not really prepared to vote for (I have no idea who the best turntable DJ in SLC is), when I hit the Folk/Acoustic category. Utah is rife with people trying to be the next Dave Matthews or Bob Dylan (minus the whole powerful influence and deeply impacting music). The category could be overstocked with your garden variety “Hey, I play acoustic guitar as well!” groups (and it probably is), and I usually give it a miss. However, this year, I had someone to cast a vote for.
I first saw Iberis play on campus at the U. It always feels a bit weird saying “saw Iberis play” because this connotes a band up on the stage. In reality, Iberis is a singer/songwriter named Jan Reed. Anyway, I really enjoyed hearing her play, and I am friends with some of her label mates over at Eden’s Watchtower Records, so I picked up an advanced copy of her debut CD, Somewhat Important. My copy came sans artwork, in a paper sleeve, and with a mixed track order. I usually make a fuss about artwork (gee, I wonder why?), but I was just happy to get ahold of the album.
I’m usually into indie rock and the like (see my Great Music Not on iTMS post), but everyone needs some diversity. I, for example, love blues and folk music (which is something most people outside my family wouldn’t guess). We all have to change it up musically, or things get stale. I’ve even found myself listening to my Cash albums more often, and I used to be staunchly anti-country music.
I find myself in positions of an overload of stress, and often the music I usually listen to doesn’t help things out. I love the bands I have in my regular rotation, but the unwinding process requires something else. I’ve taken to playing my Iberis album when I need the atmosphere to change. Things lighten up. It’s hard to explain. The music is so simple… straightforward. At the same time, the words are open and heartfelt. You feel like you are sitting, barefoot in a sun-room on a summer Saturday, and yet you also feel like you’ve just fallen in love. Peaceful and yet somehow uncertain of the world, what will come next. But you don’t really care.
I read a rather less than flattering review of Somewhat Important once. The writer equated it to just another coffee shop folk singer trying to be famous. I don’t really know Jan (we only met briefly when I bought the CD), but I was kind of offended by the review. I had really enjoyed the album and it had earned a place in my coveted main CD rack (I have over 300 CDs, and they are divided by my opinion of them and how often they get played). The reviewer had effectively told me “Hey, guess what? You have bad taste in music! And yo’ mamma…” Luckily, I have a fair bit of experience with music industry/reviewer types, and I’ve found they tend to be overtly cynical, jaded and elitist. So I guess I can take that review with a grain of salt.
According to the official Iberis website, Jan & Co. are finishing up work on a new album (one that promises to be more lush and textured). I’m waiting impatiently. For those of you who want in on this, check out the following: