World in Reverse
World in Reverse - Press Release Kele Fleming began writing World in Reverse with the goal of creating a sonic novel. By the time she was done, she had created a sonic Ulysses, a series of vignettes that coalesce into a subtle social commentary. The English Lit major and leader of the 90s pop band Hazel Motes had previously combined her talents in music and text on her 2004 album 'songs from the tinforest,' a collection of her poetry set to music. Now the woman The Vancouver Province said "might have the most original songwriting style in Vancouver" fuses the disciplines more fully - joining her highly literate lyrics, idiosyncratic compositions and ambitious artistic vision into a cohesive body of work that, as the title suggests, reflects on a feeling of life in regression. Some songs are about lives ending just as they should be blossoming. Some are about the earth itself decaying through environmental damage. Others are about love affairs or life plans doing 180 degree turns. What makes the work stand out from other songs on similar topics is Fleming's singular voice as a songwriter. So talented is she that World's lyric sheet alone reads like a work of starkly hard-hitting poetry. There's no mistaking that "Crowsnest" and "Inescapable Jesus" are about murdered women - although the word is never uttered - or that "The Ladder" and "World in Reverse" are about environmental destruction. For all the force of the songwriting, though, World is anything but whiney. The lyrics come to life through Fleming's quirky musical sensibilities and range as a vocalist. Possessed of a powerful soprano that, in it's lower registers, evokes Grace Slick or Debbie Harry, Fleming can sweep from an angry growl to an ethereal high to a plaintive almost-whisper in seconds. Her melodies take unexpected twists and turns, and her creative phrasing fits the lyrics seamlessly inside them. And Gen Xers will appreciate the nods to 80s and 90s alternative pop in the production values. In fact, the occasional juxtaposition of serious subject matter against 80s-like elements is one of the album's many peculiarly alluring qualities. The arrangements also provide the side-stories to Fleming's melodic main narratives. On "Crowsnest," the rhythm guitar suggests the feeling of being on the open road. On "Hopeslide," the cello helps one feel the character's heartbreak. On "World in Reverse," the piano is the antidote to the melancholic message, the signal that there is still hope. It all adds up to one of the most original recordings likely to be released this year. About Kele Fleming Kele Fleming grew up in Vancouver, Nova Scotia, and Trenton, Ontario and began writing poetry as a child. She also sang and played guitar and French horn, but her interest in songwriting grew out of her love of literature. She founded Hazel Motes while an English Lit student at the University of British Columbia and named it for the main character in Flannery O'Connor's novel, Wise Blood. At it's most active, in the early and mid 90s, the band toured Canada three times; played Bumbershoot, NXNE and Canadian Music Week; charted at college radio across Canada and the U.S.; and recorded a Nightlines session with CBC Radio's David Wisdom. Along with acts like the Grapes of Wrath and Lava Hay, the ethereal roots-pop outfit was sometimes described as typifying the "Vancouver sound." In 1998, Fleming decided she was through with the life of a starving artist and returned to school to study web technology. She now divides her time between her art and her day job in learning technology - a job she says influences her music by empowering her to experiment with digital production techniques. Fortunately, Fleming's tech job comes with some flexibility, meaning fans will get to check out the new project when she takes it on the road early next month. In the constant sea of promising new voices hitting the stage, Fleming makes one appreciate the sophistication of a veteran performer.