Carla Kihlstedt, the violinist for the Tin Hat Trio, steps out to create her first solo project on Two Foot Yard
. Ms. Kihlstedt seems equally comfortable in classical, jazz, pop, and the avant-classical/jazz/pop arenas. The ultimate compliment paid is to call her the female equivalent of Tom Waits.
Like Waits she is a master in the vignette, painting 20 short scenes or sketches for listeners. As with her work in Tin Hat Trio, the music choice is eclectic, but not decidedly catholic to alienate. Kihlstedt, who has performed with John Zorn, Phillip Glass, Eugene Chadbourne, Tracy Chapman, and Mr. Bungle, can swing rhythmically or pulse outward into free territories.
The twenty tracks wander between chamber classical pieces, twisted children’s songs, blues, and pieces of the 20th century that get reconfigured in to our 21st perspective. She gives a nod to Phillip Glass on “Rooting For The Shy Librarian” with a tousled and unkempt Glass-like repetition. There is a tiny operetta “Gone,” a scary child’s song “Trampolina,” an attractive blues “Tough Guy,” and a sleep-deprived rant “Flinch.” Is this the music Tori and Alanis are trying to make? I’m not sure Kihlstedt’s music is made for mass consumption, but like the Tin Hat Trio, she doesn’t back away from the accessibility. Her folk tune “50 Miles” (of elbowroom) is attractive like the music of Suzanne Vega and Michelle Shocked. This new bohemian is an unorthodox song generator. She honors the pre-beat poet Ken Patchen putting music to his words and coils her own poetry around a wide array of sounds. Her trio never seems to repeat approaches here, varying the music throughout.
Kihlstedt’s music is pure theatre.