A cozy, charming, and cerebral set from a gifted storyteller.
I'm hard pressed to think of an album more appropriately titled than Linda Draper's Keepsake, her fifth studio release. Like most of our keepsakes, Draper's work is warm and personal, resonating with the memories and insights we attach and attribute to things we hold dear. Equipped with guitars, pianos, keyboards, and a toy xylophone, Draper conjures a treasure chest of thoughtful tunes and melodies. Keepsake, enriched by contributions from Robert Woodstock (bass), Major Matt (bass), Sam Lazzara (percussion), Nan Turner (piano), Soce, the Elemental Wizard (Violin), Danny Fast Fingers (Slide guitar), follows the New York City native's previous outings: Ricochet (2001), Snow White Trash Girl (2002), Patchwork (2003), and One Two Three Four (2005). Keepsake's strengths are its intimate, crisp recording that enables you to hear every breath and swallow, as well as Draper's dreamy, angelic vocals and her astute songwriting, particularly her skill in using concrete imagery to develop metaphors for abstract feelings. While "Kissing the Ground" and "Keepsake" serve as fine lyrical examples, my favorite is "Cell Phone", which captures the emotional distance between people in an age of supposed technological closeness. Draper also delivers a successful interpretation of Rick Nelson's "How Long". The weaknesses are: (1) how similar the songs sound to each other, and, more importantly, (2) the choppiness of Draper's delivery. The delivery, which makes the listening experience much like reading a poem with a line break after every other word, tends to neutralize the beauty of Draper's lyricism. Best listens: "Keepsake", "Cell Phone", "Too Late", "Kissing the Ground", and "Full Moon".