Delphia Blize's "West River" is worth a listen though it may not impress

Photos courtesy Delphia Blize

Delphia Blize's West River acquits her as a lyricist's lyricist who can take the everyday occurrences in life and make magic of the mundane. And, actually, when it's happening to you, things like getting through a holiday, whether to spend the night with a lover, it can feel—though millions of others manage to do the deal with the same thing without the word coming to an end—like something of special consequence is going on.

"Depending on the Light," for instance, depicts what's hardly an extraordinary situation. Blize, though, gives it quite interesting immediacy, intoning, "There's a million different reasons I should not stop by tonight/ Like it's cold and snowing outside/ And I've acted indifferent one too many times/ But oh my love what beautiful night" and "There's a million different reasons we should get some sleep/ The girl in the mirror's not as young as she used to be/And she's still got a young girl's pride/ But oh my love what a beautiful night." And Blize goes on with her indecision, you feel her fighting her own passion and, while you're at it, feel pretty bad for whoever is she has twisting in the wind. By the time it's done, though, you feel pretty good for them both.

As you might well imagine, when Blize gets dark, things get emotionally dangerous. Like the erie "Strangely Alone" going, "You are cleaning out a teapot from our senseless days/ Before reason interjected her senseless ways/ Before you held yourself back took stock too stake/ When we had it made had it made had it made/ And I have watched you scramble for shore/ Will not stay silent any more, I am waiting for you to turn/I am waiting to be known, I am strangely alone."

Cutting laser close to the bone, she recreates that confounding emotional truth of falling for someone, painting not a pretty picture, given the scene the kind of depth you can feel, think about and, indeed, marvel at how well this woman knows the heart and mind. In "'TIl I Burned For You," writing, "I've seen a dark weight/ In the corner of my eye/ A wing with a wave/ Let go of the sky/ And've seen the kindness/ Fall from a face/ A clown in his blindness/ Stumble from a stage/ I've thrown a stone on the ice/ And watched it fall through/ But I've never known falling/ 'Til I fell for you."

Delphia Blize is not, however, going to mesmerize anyone with her singing. It's reflective in a wispy, plaintive way. It's no reason to listen to her wonderful songwriting, just don't expect to be especially impressed. Quite honestly, Leonard Cohen never could carry a tune—not in a bucket. Kris Kristofferson, for all intents and purposes, is practically tone deaf. It never dented either of their fenders. Accordingly, brilliant wordmsith Delphia Blize, who does sing on key, is worth a listen.

  • I will add, I'm touched by this review and am aware it's not particularly easy being a critic... It's no small task to listen to and absorb an entire record, and it's usually a fairly thankless job, but such an important one. I smile at his remarks about my voice, the album was recorded at a more fragile time in my life and I had no interest in hiding that (or ability to, as the case may be)...I listen to the softer vocals from that time as a marker, a point in my life as a younger woman finding her way. I'm extremely appreciative when someone takes the time to listen and write of their opinions with such thoughtfulness, especially when those opinions are complex and take some sensitivity to tease out and articulate, as is the case here. - by Delphia Blize on Tue, 04/02/2013 - 12:21pm
  • I like the way she sings. - by Bob Niemiec on Tue, 04/02/2013 - 7:12am
  • Occasionally, an independent artist appears out of nowhere to astonish us with integrity, to stand vulnerable, naked in the spotlight of uncontrived poetry. Rarely, commercialism is not a motivation for art. And when such art reaches us, it reaches through us to something deeper, something profound. Such is the case with Delphia Blize and"West River". - by Jonathan DeBoe on Tue, 04/02/2013 - 8:33am

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Dwight Hobbes's picture
Dwight Hobbes

Dwight Hobbes (dwight [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net) is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet.