The Turnaround Road by Diane Cluck

I was introduced to Diane Cluck through my brother*, and her album, Oh Vanille / Ova Nil. Selecting a single song to talk about off this album was, well, difficult. They’re all excellent, intimate, spells woven with softly sung words and acoustic accompaniment. I ended up opting for “The Turnaround Road,” thought I was also sorely tempted by “Telepathic Desert”. As a way of a general introduction: Diane Cluck is a New York based musician who is considered part of the “anti-folk” movement (which, despite the term, is actually a genre of folk… musical genres and sub-genres often end up with bizarre titles, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it: you either like it, or you don’t). I’ve listened to Diane Cluck through a variety of means, and I must say that I think I like it most via headphones: her music is complex and nuanced, and headphones seem to work best to create that intimate, personal experience that so suits her music.

One of the most notable things about this song (and the rest of her work) is the use of strong imagery within the lyrics, with a spiraling progression created through revisited images as the revelation continues to grow. This creates a wonderful wave of images, with each connecting to the next, then revisited to tie it back to the beginning once more. As an example, the song opens with “Cars’ three point turns make pentagrams in the dirt at the end of the road where I sit in the morning.” Then, towards the end of the song, this same image is revisited, but altered, which suits the progression of the song: “Cars’ three point turns make mandalas in the dirt at the end of the road where I sit in the morning.” It’s a small alteration, but it’s a strong one: it creates a connection and relation between the start and the end, yet shows nuance and change, that the song had meaning and personal revelation for the author and, hopefully, the listener as well.

I wish there were more samples around to make available to those who might be interested: she really is well worth the listen, but currently there are very few methods to discover her work without spending at least a little money. (It makes me appreciate the KEXP song of the day arrangement even more… as well as Warren Ellis’s “for review purposes” policy: he posts it via a private server for 7 days, then deletes it, and will pull it immediately if requested by the artist.) Go listen. You’ll be glad you did.

[Oh Vanille / Ova Nil on iTunes]

[“The Turnaround Road” on iTunes Pay MP3]

[Diane Cluck on MySpace]

* – In turn, I think he discovered her through one of our former roommates, Kate. I could be wrong about that, though.