This Little Piggy (Mermaid Mafia)
By: Scott D. Lewis
If what the cringe-inducing Starship said was true, that "we built this
city on rock 'n' roll," they must have been using the collective "we"
and the city by the bay has been rebuilt by smart, sensitive and sexy
singer-songwriters. Beth Waters is one of the workers, and she's one of
the finest at her trade. Her third album, This Little Piggy, possibly a
nod to her first child (scheduled for release at about the same time
the album comes out), is easily her best and represents a giant
artistic leap forward. It's as if all the elements that were there
before ? her solid songwriting, filling arrangements, personal and
poetic lyrics, memorable melodies, gently addictive hooks, sturdy
structures and a voice that's equal parts worn and wonder ? have fully
gelled together to form a cohesive and satisfying whole. It certainly
doesn't hurt that she's ably assisted by the likes of Todd Sickafoose
(from the band of fellow SF stunning songstress Noe Venable as well as
Ani DiFranco employee), piano master Stephen Prutsman, Eamon Flynn and
engineer Joe Chiccarelli who mixed five of the eleven tracks and has
worked with the likes of Frank Zappa, U2, Elton John and Tori Amos
(whose influence can be heard more than once) to name a few.
Highlights: "Lifeguard," which starts off shy and slides into sly,
secure and seductive; the hazy warmth and multi-layered, breathy vocals
of "Get Off This Planet," that brings the overlooked greatness of Azure
Ray straight to mind; "Dark Road to Hell" which finds Waters turning to
her slinky, jazzy side and using her abused-angel voice to ride the
fine line between menacing and miraculous; the title track that looks
at the misery of an abusive home yet manages to find a balance between
hurting and hope. Tucked at the end of this delicious gem of an album
is a tasty treat: Waters takes on Paul Simon's unconcerned "Slip
Slidin' Away," slowing it down and hollowing it out to expose the
song's masked fears of encroaching human vacancy. This Little Piggy is
going to market and This Little Piggy should go home ? with you.
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