Poetica- Poetica

Which is more important, the lyrics or the music? This a question that has been asked since the 1700’s with Antonio Salieri’s opera Prima la musica e poi le parole (First the Music and then the Words) to Richard Strauss’s final opera Capriccio in 1942. Most contemporary songs and artists treat lyrics and music as if they were separate entities in their work. Music can amplify the main emotions or themes of the lyrics, lyrics can comment on what the music is playing. They seem to appear together, but separate. But, what would happen if we treat words as if they were music and music as if they were words? If the distinction of what are words and what is music could grow thinner and thinner, making them indistinguishable from one another? Poetica’s new self-titled album is a new, powerful exploration of this uncharted possibility.

Poetica is a musical project whose main driving forces are alt-folk-pop singer-songwriter Rachel Sage and cellist Dave Eggar. Inspired by the works of Leonard Cohen, Laurie Anderson, and Patty Smith, they decided to focus their talent in an often unappreciated genre: spoken word. Poetica features nineteen tracks of poetry spoken by Sage with music that circles around neoclassical, jazz, and blues or a blend of all of them. But to fully achieve their vision, the duo recruits a number of talented musicians that participate in various moments of the album including clarinetist Dave Krakauer, drummer Quinn, jazz trumpet player Russ Johnson, blues harmonica player Will Wilde, guitarist Gerry Leonard, violinist Kelly Halloran, electric guitarists Jack Petruzzelli and James Mastro and drummer Doug Yowell. Poetica also enlists the efforts of creative agency BEATFREEKS, which specializes in inspiring young poets to decide to follow their own future.

The poems/lyrics of Poetica cover a different range of topics from the mundane, to dreams and reflections of modern society. The past, the present, and the future, all combine in abstract images and thoughts spoken to us. And yet, in an extremely cinematic way, the poems carry the power to manifest in our minds certain images of our own lives; images that flash in our minds in with a new flavour, as if it was the first time we saw them in our lives, making us reflect on our own human condition. The lyrics of Poetica are dynamic, they transform, and expand, leaving room for endless possibilities of imagination.

The music of Poetica creates an ethereal aura that accentuates the out-of-ordinary images of the lyrics. Poetica experiments blues (“Passenger”), light rock (“Days of Awe”), neoclassical (“Engagement”), funk (“Thanksgiving”) among others, but without ever losing that mystical, almost magical touch in each of them. As in the lyrics, the music takes us to another space that we feel is outside of all known realms to humankind. The album offers a variety of tracks that really take advantage of all the instruments and artists that participate in it. Each instrument feels organic as if they were born to play with each other in each specific track they participate in.

But Poetica’s greatest achievement is without a doubt how the spoken poems and the music interact with each other. The words are recognized as their own instruments: each word, each letter, is given its own sonorous importance. We soon learn how spoken words carries within itself their own rhythm and melody, aspects that Poetica recognizes and fully exploits to make each word of the album sound like music. But what about those abstract ideas and those thoughts we have difficulty putting into words? Just as they treat words as music, Poetica treats music as words. Tracks such as “Untitled” give the spotlight to music in certain moments. The instruments intervene after a sentence as if they were completing the idea of what the lyrics were saying or play long passages in between verses. In both ways, we feel as if music is speaking to us telling us the secrets that cannot be said out loud.

With their self-titled album, Poetica offers a bold proposal that is rarely seen nowadays that must be heard to be fully comprehended. Imaginative, ethereal, and magical, Poetica explores the possibilities of the human voice, of music, and their year-long, eternal relationship.

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