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Sydney Wayser’s Secondary Colors

This is a recovered version from the original website. All credit goes to Bob Moses. Bob,if you are reading this and would like me to remove this awesome resource you've written, just get in touch with me). This article has been linked to by some great sites(i.e Huffingtonpost), so we had to restore it on the old site.

Sydney Wayser’s Secondary Colors

by Bob Moses

Sydney Wayser has added some brighter, more vivid hues to the many colors on her musical palette. A new recording released today expands the musical territory covered on her debut, Silent Parade. The Colorful moves beyond the cosmopolitan tristesse of a younger artist, and finds a broader canvas for her expressive vocals and sophisticated songcraft.

Sydney comes by the cosmopolitan point of view honestly. The daughter of a French songwriter, she tells us in an interview videotaped before a recent show at "The Living Room" that listening to her father play and compose, and spending time in the French capital formed strong impressions. The music on Silent Parade, recorded just after she moved on from Boston’s Berklee School of Music, demonstrates the influences. An impressionist collage in shades of blue, Silent Parade set Sydney’s intimate vocals and piano among accordions, string ensembles, 3/4 time and a smattering of French.

The Colorful picks up the sunny California side of her family story. More importantly, the recordings present a band at work in one space rather than an assemblage of various collaborators, with Sydney’s singing finding a comfortable space in more percussive, assertive arrangements. The accent on the rhythm section highlights the work of her articulate drummer Zach Mangan and fluid upright bass player, Rob Lundberg. The addition of Blaze McKenzie on guitar (he also co-produced the recording at Boston’s new Squid Hell studio) brings a welcome grit and attack to the material. While still occasionally written in minor modes, songs such as “Moonbowl” swell to a satisfyingly rocking coda featuring McKenzie’s electric guitar – and he gave a good account of himself at The Living Room show, taking the solos even further than his work on the record. In Part 2 of our interview, though, Sydney points to the arrival of Pat Spadine as a catalyst for many of the new songs. Now instead of the timbres of strings and woodwinds, Spadine’s collection of toy instruments and noisemakers provide the distinctive counterpoint to Sydney’s vocals and piano. (You’ll find a free download of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” here.)

The show at The Living Room (see the clip of "Bells" in the sidebar) was being taped for From The Living Room to The Loft on XMSirius radio, so there was intermittent fussing with microphones to get the best possible sound. Far from being thrown by the stop and start, Sydney altered the set, and picked up an autoharp — for the first time in public — and gave a heartfelt rendition of “Lilac Wine,” a song made indelible by Jeff Buckley. The choice was bold as Buckley’s spirit hovers as paterfamilias to many of The Living Room artists. Sydney’s soft strumming and hushed vocal stilled the crowd and drew them to her. And there they stayed for the night.

While she sang, at the piano, cradling the autoharp, with long, blonde hair flowing over high-cheekboned, angular beauty, it was hard not to picture a young Joni Mitchell. While Mitchell’s voice and songs are truly singular, we can hope Sydney’s inspiration and creative ambition put her on a similar path, challenging and rewarding listeners with sophisticated music of many colors.

The Colorful

Track list
Banjo Bayou
La Di Da
Wrap Me In A Blanket
Song For A Painter
Comfortable Here
Oh The Places You'll Go
Whistles And Kazoos
Drive-In Not Drive-Through

Sydney Wayser: piano/vocals
Blaze McKenzie: guitar
Pat Spadine: toys and randomness
Rob Lundberg: upright bass
Zach Mangan: hittables

Photos: Emily Berl Photography

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