Dermatomyositis is a rare connective-tissue disease that weakens the immune system, muscles and skin. When this disease struck Lisa Sniderman, AKA Aoede, in 2008, it came from out of the blue. Aoede was still basking in the recognition generated by her debut album, Push And Pull, which won Aoede recognition for Top Artist of the Year and Top Album of the Decade from WomenRadio.com. In September of 2010, Sniderman's condition worsened, requiring a 24-day hospital stay and intensive treatment and therapy. Aoede made music a part of the therapeutic process, and the result is a new seven-track album entitled Affair With The Muse.
Aoede opens with "Fairy Tale Love", a 1950's pop vocal number dressed up in modern folk/pop clothing. Party Disney and part dysfunctional romance movie, "Fairy Tale Love" explores wanting that perfect love story. Aoede's sweetly anachronistic voice dances with the melody line to create a sweet opening moment. "Does Your Heart Ever Stop Feeling" starts with an 'oom-pah' beat, much like a parade march. Aoede will remind listeners of Kate Bush and Tori Amos here, with an intriguing vocal line that makes up in character what it occasionally loses in pure tone. "Crave Me" speaks from the midst of a comfortable relationship, asking to be placed ahead of the day-to-day considerations of the world, even if for a little while. This heartfelt number is honest and real, written from the heart of someone who just wants to be seen as she once was. Off to a great start, the album slows down somewhat from there. "If You Already Know" has a bit of a cabaret feel, but is otherwise somewhat bland. Aoede creates an interesting characterization of love in "Love Proof", but "Fall On Your Deaf Ears" is a bit too close to cliché in trying to save a relationship tilting into the wind. Aoede closes strong with "What You Got". Part pep talk and part motivational aid (i.e. kick in the rear), the song is entertaining and impassioned and full of heart.
Just like people, sometimes music soars and sometimes it survives. Aoede does a bit of both here, which is incredibly fitting given the circumstances under which Affair With The Muse was born. Aoede's quirky folk/pop sensibilities mix with both light and dark on her latest album, sometimes throwing up glorious sparks of song, while at others simply documenting the passage of time and the survival of creation; of life itself. While Affair With The Muse may not stand as Aoede's best work in time, it might be her most compelling. You can't help but think, listening to Aoede's occasional brushes with magic, that there's an album in her down the road that's going to blow a lot of people away. Affair With The Muse isn't that album, but it's the first step on the path there.
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Aoede at www.aoedemuse.com. To learn more about Dermatomyositis, please visit www.myositis.org. Affair With The Muse is available digitally from Amazon.com and iTunes.