Petra_frisell_span3
March 2005

Petra Hayden and Bill Frisell
Petra Hayden and Bill Frisell
Sovereign

Staying on the subject of dynamic duos, something wickedly good this way comes when guitarist Bill Frisell meets singer-songwriter-violinist Petra Haden (one of Charlie's triplet daughters and formerly of the pop band That Dog) on the dully titled but magically eclectic Petra Haden and Bill Frisell (Sovereign Artists). Frisell's assured acoustic and electric work provides the album's backbone, the anchored rod of authority around which the elfin Petra can flit. Sounding like a combination of Art Garfunkel's tremulous fragility and Wilson Phillips' cool California pop groove, Haden skims across the disc's surface with a sort of East Coast-meets-West Coast vibe that proves arrestingly ethereal. As on her aptly named debut solo disc, Imaginaryland, Haden inhabits a dusky land of make believe (an ideal location, logic suggests, for crafting cashmere-soft musical confections) as she travels a twisted route from the glacial harshness of Elliott Smith's "Satellite" and sharp angles of the traditional Tuva folk tune "Bai-Laa Taigam" to the dewy-eyed optimism of Henry Mancini's "Moon River," Tom Waits' "I Don't Want to Grow Up," the Gershwins' "I've Got a Crush On You," Stevie Wonder's joyously redemptive "I Believe" and Jiminy Cricket's ode to dreamy fulfillment, "When You Wish Upon a Star." She is Peter Pan (which, I suppose, makes Frisell the grounded and sensible but lovingly indulgent Nana) spreading fairy dust, caught between childhood innocence and grown-up wisdom, yet, unlike Peter, keenly appreciative of both.

Originally published in March 2005
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