You’ll have to give me a second because I just downed a few Valium after listening to the eponymously-titled third album by Leona Naess. I didn’t do it because I was so emotionally charged that I had to calm myself down; I just figured that if I was already totally sapped and still on my way down, I might as well enjoy the ride. Standing is all right, as long as I have a wall to brace myself, but let me tell you — typing is a bitch. If only I had someone taking dictation, this would be so much easier.
Have you ever been stuck in an elevator that just takes entirely too long to reach the third floor, and you have to lean against the back rail and stare at your reflection in the overhead mirror? If not, I highly recommend this album because it perfectly replicates the experience. Song after song after song, or should I say ballad after ballad, swirls and swirls and refuses to stop. I became so dizzy after listening to the first track, “Calling,” that I had to sit down and reorient myself after the staggered vocal layers. After about the third round of “I’m calling, can you hear me/ the angels will steer me/ to your door/ I feel so sure,” that I really wanted to jump into the fray with “Row row row your boat,” but couldn’t because then I’d truly start hating myself. In music theory, that’s called “polyphony.” I know this because I think Leona and I were in the same “Listening to Music” class, which I dropped but she opted to ride out until the very end. Now she knows all the ins and outs of harmony, and boy, does she flaunt it.
Channeling Brian Wilson, she layers her own backing vocals over almost every song — I wouldn’t really know because I listened while laying down and couldn’t quite be sure when each track turned over. They’re not bad, though. Maybe she just took one too many tokes and couldn’t keep track anymore. But then again, maybe she was just trying to demonstrate her mastery of another technique explained during that same lecture: homophony. I have a feeling that she really kicked some ass on that exam, because monophony is just common sense, so she had to have those three terms down flat.
She seems to have the same overzealous problems with her rhyming skills. If she didn’t sound quite so much like Norah Jones, maybe her internal rhymes wouldn’t have made me laugh so often. Read this from “Christmas” while I separate the rhymes for you: “the strangest feeling/ of being/ I want willow trees/ and melodies/ and flowers/ counting hours.” What a verbal assault! It could rival “walk on tip toes/ don’t try no-doz/ better stay away from those that carry round a fire hose/ keep a clean nose/ watch the plain clothes” if only she had rhythm beyond the lazily hypnotic jazz intonation. But the line before this utterance really perplexed me enough that I had to stop thinking about it lest my nose start to bleed: “words are falling from your lips/ like Christmas to my hips.” Damn hippies! Stop screwing with my mind by forcing these nonsensical, dubiously profound-sounding utterances into my brain. If my brain were a pinball machine, it’d be screaming “TILT!” at this point.
How do I know she’s a hippy? Besides those crepe-paper blouses that she dons frequently, she apparently can’t get enough of astrology. One song is called “Star Signs,” and she softly alludes to her timid heartbreak with “I still read your star signs.” Thank God she remains ambiguous enough because I’d tell her to run if that bastard were a Gemini because we all know they have dual personalities and can’t be trusted (I know because I am one, or am I?)
Besides all of this, there’s really nothing truly offensive on this album. It’s slow and nice and really just passively mediocre. If you’re kind of depressed, but aren’t really sure, pick it up! Maybe it’ll help you along, and then again, maybe it won’t. What do I know? I’m just a crazy Gemini.