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Sunday, September 14, 2008

CD Review: The Simple Things - The Simple Things

The Simple Things - The Simple Things
2008, The Simple Things

Straight from the art galleries and dinner parties of San Francisco come The Simple Things. Their self-titled debut may be one of the more intriguing releases of 2008. Eschewing drums and guitar, The Simple Things go with vocals, piano and bass. In the world of popular music this would be considered either gutsy or foolish. A lot depends on whether a band has the chutzpah and talent to pull it off. The Simple Things do.

The Simple Things started out as the duo of Kaitlin McGaw (vox) and Raymond Ruiz (bass). In 2007 Michael Gallant brought his jazz and classical based piano talents into the now burgeoning trio. The Simple Things as we hear them now were born. Gallant and Ruiz seem to have found a musical chemistry that creates a perfect base for the glorious alto voice of Kaitlin McGaw. McGaw is part Natalie Merchant and part Margo Timmons (Cowboy Junkies) but manages to sound like no one other than herself.

What The Simple Things possess more than anything else is a penchant for gorgeous, sometimes heartbreaking melodies, and a minimalist approach to instrumentation. Having realized that silence is also a musical note, The Simple Things speak musically only when necessary. The result is a collection of 10 starkly beautiful and longingly passionate songs. If you are a fan of The Brothers Creeggan (Barenaked Ladies side project) you will love the musical arrangements here.

My favorite track on the disc is Cold, a sultry jazz invitation that is the ultimate answer to Barry White. McGaw gives every ounce of her voice on this song and melts some speaker wire in the process. What's Good For Me is a theatrical jazz/soul statement of terms that drips from the heat. The Simple Things turn more plaintive on tunes like The Moon Is Torn; one of the quieter and lovelier moments on their debut. Other highlights include Flying Horses; Gone, Gone and It's Still Light Out.

I can't recommend this disc highly enough. The Simple Things aren't going to see pop radio or charts, but I would suggest that in the jazz world and on XM and NPR they'll build huge followings. For music purists it doesn't get any better than this. The Simple Things is a gorgeous and deep debut, a Wildy's World Certified Desert Island Disc, and one that I suspect will be on my regular personal play list for some time to come. If you give them a listen I'm sure they'll be on yours too.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The Simple Things at You can purchase a copy of The Simple Things at

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