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TBTS Reviews: The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger (Acoustic Sessions)

October 31, 2010

A release compiled from acoustic recording sessions might be something you get from an established electric artist that, under normal circumstances, would not be expected to do such things. For The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger it is their inaugural gift. And a gift it is. The musical romance between Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl has blessed the pairing with a wondrous blend of fresh ideas and audible expression. Acoustic Sessions (Chimera) sounds little like a debut. Coming across more like a welcome diversion from a worn path in the way only seasoned bands can pull off. The complexity of the arrangements presented here may not be readily apparent to most, as undetected elements continue to reveal themselves with each listen, exposing layer after layer of subtle details.

Muhl’s voice lives somewhere in between mid 70’s Olivia Newton-John and Astrud Gilberto in it’s undisguised feminine styling and range. Her vocal contribution to the project achieves a most desirable effect on the listener, initiating transport far from the ordinary to a faerie-like realm. She also plays piano, vibes, kalimba, cello and guitar with surprising skill, considering they are all relatively new to her. Lennon does some serious multi-tasking here, honoring the legacy to the genius of his father and furthering his own, by holding down vocals and ten instruments. Even today it is hard to truly escape The Beatles influence for many musicians. This must be infinitely more difficult for the son of a Beatle (not to assume that the youngest Lennon would actually make such an effort).  There are at least two tracks from Acoustic Sessions, “Jardin du Luxembourg” and “The World Was Made For Men”, that display just such an inspiration. The latter hints at “Because” in such a way that you almost expect a sample from the Abbey Road tune to start swirling through at any moment. You might be hard pressed to find a bad song among the nine, were you so inclined to try, as there just isn’t one.

Even the insert has a very spontaneous feel, with it’s lo-res cover images and scribbled lyrics, and that’s just the kind of thing that helps give this disk it’s charm. There is a fluid, natural quality about the music on Acoustic Sessions, like a trickling waterfall just after the spring thaw. Not too much at first, but drop by drop, water fills a pool, and life blossoms anew.

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