Meklit Hadero, On a Day Like This …
Porto Franco Records 2010
The Songstress With a Roadmap to the Poetic Landscape
As you may have noticed, the Bard avoids building up featured artists with comparisons to similar artists, partly because the entertainment world really milks this tactic dry, scarcely daring to describe any new work without suggesting that It’s nothing more than the sum of borrowed parts. The Bard also shuns comparisons out of respect for the distinctiveness of each performer.
But Meklit Hadero really does bear comparing to Joni Mitchell in her tender, subtle, sensitive portrayal of the vicissitudes of romantic love and other inner states. Like Joni, She’s also musically innovative and embraces jazz as a medium that naturally enhances her personal style of expression.
One salient difference between Hadero and Mitchell is that Hadero’s lyrical meditations dwell more on the sweet moments, the colours and scents and sounds of things, those sensory inputs that illuminate the inner cathedrals we build to house our pain and elation.
This music has the kind of jazz feel that makes you feel closely connected to 50s jazz, the beat poets, the civil rights movement, and 60s singer-songwriters. Hadero’s mix of styles is a killing combination that seems at the same time artistically pure, a sign that she has remained solidly true to her own vision.
One of the few songs not written or co-written by Hadero is ?Feeling Good,? a song written by Newley and Bricusse and popularized by Michael Bublé. From Hadero’s lips, it carries a meaning that is profound and mysterious?part lament, part anthem?and shows up her skill as a stylist. It is so hard to do this kind of thing well, but Hadero makes it all sound effortless.
The first track, ?Walk Up? (the track which spawned the album’s title) was actually inspired by James Turrell’s installation, Three Gems?a ?skyspace? permitting an LED-enhanced view of changes in the sky’s appearance?at the de Young Museum in San Francisco: ?walk up/walk up straight through the roof/straight through the hole in the ceiling/take your place in the sky . . . and you suddenly think of the kings/and the poets in the past/and how they must have felt just like this . . .?
This really is a very comforting, uplifting album in addition to being, from an artistic perspective, a perfectly precious little musical package.
On a Day Like This … manifests six of The Mindful Bard’s criteria for music well worth a listen: 1) it is authentic, original, and delightful; 2) it makes me want to be a better artist; 3) it displays an engagement with and compassionate response to suffering; 4) it inspires an awareness of the sanctity of creation; 5) it is about attainment of the true self; and 6) it provides respite from a sick and cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavour.