Tales of the Unusual
The high priestess of sardonic lyricism is getting her Charles Addams on. For Lorraine Feather’s eighth collection of outré reinventions, which match her original lyrics to music by composers including Nino Rota and Duke Ellington, she delves deeper than ever into the dark corners and caverns of a bizarro world that remains uniquely her own.
This time, Feather’s fervid imagination travels from the bug-infested Amazon jungle for “The Hole in the Map,” composed by Russell Ferrante and inspired by David Grann’s The Lost City of Z, to the most isolated of Washington State’s San Juan Islands for the Stephen King-esque “Off-the-Grid Girl” (music by Eddie Arkin). “Where Is Everybody?,” also written with Arkin, takes both title and theme from the debut episode of The Twilight Zone, while “Out There,” composed by Shelly Berg (who alternates piano duties on the album with Ferrante), pays tribute to The X-Files’ stony agents Mulder and Scully. Pop culture references also drive Feather and Ferrante’s “The Usual Suspects,” built around the film of the same name, as well as her and Berg’s freewheeling “Get a Room,” a salute to mismatched couples (with James Carville and Mary Matalin cited as a favorite example).
Most ambitious, though, are “Indiana Lana,” the tale of a peculiarly speedy young lass built upon Ellington’s “Jubilee Swamp,” and “Ahh,” a swirling homage to circus life based on Rota’s “Rose Aurata,” from his score for Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits.