This is the first appearance on my blog for singer/songwriter Joe Firstman. After being released from his major label recording contract Joe made a habit of releasing EP’s each spring/summer, usually with a mix of original music and reworkings of previously released material. Fell Swoops followed on the heels of DrAma, a full album of material released the year before. Together these 2 releases find Joe in his most musically confusing stage. This 6 song EP was, by far, his most disappointing release. The five new songs on this disc are flat,confusing and sound like unfinished ideas. Much like DrAma it sounds like a group of demos. “Daughter Of A Monarch” is a song that most closely resembles a finished idea in the mold of the expectations I have for a Firstman tune. You can almost hear Joe struggling with a transition in his songwriting approach. It is clear that he is trying to change his songwriting approach on this offering, but it is forced and uncomfortable. This is never more clear than on the albums tracks “My Black Motorcycle Jacket” (which may be the closest to unlistenable that I have ever heard Joe) and “Silver Track”. Songs like “Daughter of a Monarch” & “Scared” show potential , they are piano driven, where he is
usually at his finest, but leaves me wanting. “Everything Is A Crime” is a perfect example of this. I’m not a huge fan of the song in this incarnation, but I like the metamorphisis that this song makes when it appears a couple of years later on Live At The Treehouse.
The reason though to get this offering is quite simply the re-working of “The Empress of Harlem & the Amazing Subway Boy” into a jazz fusion masterpiece re-titled “Subway Boy”. It renews your faith as the disc finishes that, despite the 5 confusing songs I just listened to, that Joe is still a musical prodigy who is still capable of musical greatness.
Other Joe Firstman on this blog: