Is This Me?

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It takes some courage to title a new song "Promised Land" in 2008. Carolyn Striho's "Promised Land" isn't the best track on her new four-song EP. It may be the one, however, that best expresses its message via its mood in no uncertain terms. It isn't at all reminiscent of Springsteen's hope-in-the-face-of-despair anthem in its tone, nor even the more cynical but still humorous (humor = hope) "Promised Land" by one Mr. Chuck Berry as covered by Elvis Presley and thousands of others over the years. Striho's "Promised Land" is dissonant electro-pop, with frightening stream-of-consciousness lyrics, appropriate for the zeitgeist following eight years of Bush. But it rocks nevertheless. And rock can also mean hope — even at this late date.

Is This Me? is exceptionally good. The internationally renowned Detroit artist's voice is, at turns, warm, rich, idiosyncratic and, at times, just plain (in a good way) eccentric. "Tiara" opens things on a violin-driven, downbeat, almost mournful but still melodically beautiful note. The appropriately titled "Ocean" is so Patti Smith influenced in its trippiness and mid-song chanting that it almost could be Patti Smith. And that's meant as a compliment — a big one. "Enchante" opens with a calliope-driven instrumental musical interlude before the lyrics kick in and it becomes a clash between the sounds of Barnum & Bailey and gypsys, tramps and thieves.

Good stuff. Four-and-a-half out of five, only because it leaves you wanting to hear more from this Motor City maven.

Bill Holdship is the music editor of Metro Times Send comments to bholdship@metrotimes.com.

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