Friday, September 17, 2010
Saint Mad - Waiting To Start
Saint Mad - Waiting To Start
2010, Saint Mad
Philadelphia quartet Saint Mad are veteran performers with a very unique approach to music. Formed in 2005, Saint Mad blends pop, R&B, folk, jazz, gospel and classical in very eclectic ways, morphing themselves from one song to the next using instruments such as guitar, trumpet, harmonica, bass, organ, piano and euphonium. While these instruments craft a distinct and highly developed aural canvas, Saint Mad's voices intertwine over the top to create moments that run from the theatrical to the divine. With songs built around positive thought constructs from self-sufficiency to faith in God, Saint Mad has something for everyone on their latest album, Waiting To Start.
Saint Mad opens with "Can't Let Go", exploring the argument between faith and self doubt. Catchy and fun with some tremendous piano work throughout, the song shows a highly original and creative approach to telling a story that's theatrical without being over-the-top. "I See Myself In You" is a pleasant transition into "God Gives You What You Need", a quasi-liturgical bit of folk/pop that plays on the theme that God never gives you a challenge you can't handle. The sound here is gorgeous and the songwriting top notch. "Live" is an admonition to make the most of your life and take care of those who have less. Fear is cast as something others have already faced and therefore not something to stop you in this gentle calypso.
Saint Mad makes light of the concept that distant planets and stars control our destiny in "Not For A Long Time". Revolving around the recent "near pass" between the Earth and Mars, the song acknowledges the beauty of heavenly bodies while emphasizing the small "h" between the lines. "O Sweet Spontaneous" is a song about the regenerative, almost magical power of life; a celebration of creation and all around us. Saint Mad takes this spirit into the light jazz instrumental "Wistful", a pleasant diversion that sets up the band for the final stretch. "What Else Is Kindness For" is a parable in song. This hip take on the gospel sound boils the spiritual message of taking care of each other and boils it down into simple terms without making an issue out of religion. While the message here is decidedly Judeo-Christian, Saint Mad make it more about supply and demand while emphasizing the abundance of kindness we are given and asking why not share it? Saint Mad makes the most of John Lennon's "Across The Universe" in a touching rendition full of spirit and panache. "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" takes up the same mantle, and impresses with strong vocal harmonies around a competent lead. "Wish" brings Saint Mad full circle, delving into the internal dialogue of a person who strives for a better way but is prone to their own deep imperfections. The song is very well done; given without judgment or any sense of proselytization; allowing the dialogue to speak for itself in near-Socratic fashion.
Saint Mad infuse faith and belief into their music on Waiting To Start, informing stories of human conditions with the light of positive thinking and hope. The purpose here seems not so much to preach as to uplift; like a philosopher shedding light into the darker places we visit in day-to-day life. Musically Saint Mad is something else. The instrumental and vocal mixes here are astounding at times, perhaps truly earning the moniker "post-genre" in a way most bands only dream of. Saint Mad seems likely to draw more heavily from the over-forty crowd, but anyone with a deep appreciation of music that breaks the mold will find something to charm them on Waiting To Start.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Saint Mad at http://www.saintmad.com/ or www.myspace.com/saintmad. Waiting To Start is available from Amazon.com as either a CD or Download. The album is also available in both formats from CDBaby and digitally from iTunes.