Artist Review
Painting with dust; POP goes the easel
A CD review - POP4 summer
Kirk Adams, KC Bowman, Scott McPherson, Andrea Perry
Frank Cotolo
August 22, 2015
The true beauty of artistic pop/rock is its ability to move melodies in every direction. Some routes defy musical form, others are familiar deviations of influences and even others are trails into deep, disturbing emotional territories of the heart. To experience the breadth of "Pop Art" put to music, one must be prepared to go the distances before reaching a destination. As Robert Frost wrote, "The best way out is always through."
If you are ready, then, POP4 Summer is a journey by masterful artistic pop/rock songwriters/performers Kirk Adams, KC Bowman, Scott McPherson and Andrea Perry, which you must go through in order to get out - or more explicitly, be released.
Andrea Perry provides the all-important tunes that put depth to a season's menu of music performed from amusement to amazement. To begin the CD with her song, "I Will Become Love," and end with her song, "Dust," allows Bowman, Adams and McPherson to embrace baroque melodies with reckless abandon.
Perry and Bowman collaborated in song two, "Beautiful," which sets the scene for the playfully constructed pop concertos to follow. "Beautiful" is a coloring book of sound that so carefully ignores the strong sense of spirituality in which the CD ends and presents a youthful spin on eternity. "My God, I fall for tricks as old as this," she sings as an aside and to herself, before she declares to those less fortunately gifted with reality that the trees, the sun and the moon are, simply, like everything else, beautiful.
The derivative but decisive "Einstein And Sunshine" is delightfully puerile. McPherson's song follows Adams' "Blow Wind Blow," and the jumping rock pieces pounce like boys would in light, coltish motion on a hot August day. "Take me wherever you want me to go," Adams sings in the latter, perhaps after hearing McPherson sing, "It doesn't take an Einstein to realize the sunshine is better than rain." Duh.
While the boys careen off the light edges of pulp pop, Perry strolls the sands of time, forlorn beneath a summer sky filled with dead stars, wondering. "What's It Going To Be Like Now?" She pauses from the word "like" to the word "now," as if she cannot connect with the moment, no less how life will become with love lost. The boys, however, continue to believe everything is beautiful and that is all they want to believe.
Perry joins McPherson and Adams in their collaboration "Don't You Be Like That." The trio agrees that the mood of the previous tune "is chilling, draped in black" but a change of mind, if not of heart, is the obvious solution, so they chant, "Don't you be like that..." Certainly not "" Then, McPherson shows some sweet femininity with a pretty poem and his string quartet (lovely musical assistance by Danny Levin). "Jaded" plays with rhymes to dull us with its surfeit and toss off the seriousness of a direct answer. POP 4's summer at this point is down to "who knows..." so let's just have fun.
"I'm So Jealous" finds Perry joining the boys in their immature theater of pulp, where it's all right to lose a love or two to summer; in fact, it provokes this Shirley Temple-like dance tune.
Then the gallery of tunes turns on a dime and summer shifts from playful to painful, if only in its promise to end. That's why the next song is "Miserably Pursuing Happiness." Perry and Bowman sing about the burden of consciously looking to be happy, making hope a burden.
Meanwhile, McPherson is creating "pub pop" with his saloon-crooning "Julianne Irish." It's a drunken harangue served at room temperature and sung tongue-in-cheek with an ending that decelerates to a point where you realize it's the booze singing.
Adams' "Straight To The Head" aptly follows in Nilssonesque persistence. It is apparent at this point that POP4 summer has come of age, relating on a totally different level than it began and changed into midway. The journey is less arty at this point; it is almost decidedly snide. "You're No Aimee Mann" is long; it's a march into submission, ending with a wandering musical "Whatever," feel, like Aimee's own "sunny, surreal" songs.
Adams' "Lover's Limbo" admits to be "numb and floating... is fine this time of year" and summer's rite of passage means we "haven't got a clue and maybe it's just as well." Bowman resigns in "You Love Me" that it ain't necessarily so. "You love me until you've got something better to do."
McPherson then welcomes us all to a "Tour For The Brokenhearted" where we should "have respect for the departed" and the heaven that defined everything is beautiful when POP4 summer started is summer burning out. "If hell is a place then it's here." Oh, how summer's flames have turned innocence into fragments of matter.
This is an evergreen collection of sharp, clear music that displays the talents of a quartet whose individual members represent a loss in the very value of the wonderful music they have created over too many years of anonymity. Perry understands this and when the collection of arty musical approaches results in her song, "Dust," we are left bereft of youth and its championship season.
Listening to this CD any other season but summer is all right. It will just bring you right back to an understanding that everything is beautiful and so is the dust. As an existential parable, POP4 summer assures us that beneath the rubble of the broken heart are the stuff of life that mattered and may matter again.
Frank Cotolo can be found hosting the talk and interview programme Cotolo Chronicles. You can send him an e-mail at this address:

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