Jeri Silverman – Leaflike
In our global world of today, music increasingly carries one common voice. There’s nothing in the six songs on Jeri Silverman’s EP Leaflike to suggest she originally hails from South Africa. The music and lyrics she’s helped compose for this album are resolutely within the realm of shared experience. A brief perusal of the lyrics will convince you that she’s a deep feeling and thinking songwriter, but these aren’t poetry texts set uneasily to music. Instead, Silverman writes like someone keenly aware of the percussive possibilities in words and her vocals make excellent use of the material. The production has a minimalist slant, much like the arrangements, but also possesses a clarity that renders the EP’s instrumentation in exquisite detail.
The downbeat mood of the album comes through clearly on its opener. “Anywhere But Here” can be viewed through one of two lenses. Through one, the song is a beautifully ornate, even occasionally lyrical, piano driven reflection filled with inchoate longing that goes beyond its words. Others will hear this song as an imagery-laden wallow in despair and, perhaps, even a bit histrionic and overheated. When performers expose themselves to such a degree, like Silverman does here, the stakes rise accordingly. “G&A” maintains a close fidelity to the synthesizer sounds emerging only briefly on the first track and Silverman’s vocal style, winding and slow to resolve, fits the musical mood. “The Fever” signals a shift on the EP. There is a faint bluesy air, coming through largely in Silverman’s vocals, and snatches of acoustic guitar slicing their way through the music. Electronica, perhaps more diffuse than ever before, still guides the song melodically, though the EP’s percussion is a constant strength.
The shift signaled by “The Fever” finds Silverman’s sidestep away from pop affectations complete in the next song “Rabbit”. This lightly bitter reflection on complicated relationships benefits greatly from an understated Silverman vocal and a coy refrain that sticks in the memory. Her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” has a coolly stylish, streamlined shape and never treats the song too reverentially. Silverman makes an earnest attempt to show respect however and hits some of Stevie Nicks’ vocal marks, but this is certainly a different version in tone and tenor. The EP’s final song, its title track, is the best example on the release of how good things can be when Silverman’s genre hopping techniques find deep traction. There’s a smattering of electronica in the song acting as background color for the drumming and acoustic guitar. The lyrics rank among the best.
It’s a memorable close. The EP is an ideal form for Silverman to be pushing her vision right now – a limited canvas that concentrates her energies and strengths for maximum effect. However, there’s little question after hearing this effort that Jeri Silverman is ready for a full length album. Her songwriting has enough chops and literary flair to present well-rounded and intelligence popular music. Leaflike will endear itself to many.
8 out of 10 stars.