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The Decemberists' fairy tale album
Loving the Hazards of Love
By Julie DiNisio
All right, so the Hazards of Love is an album that has been out since 2009. I know that. But I've just rediscovered it and have remembered how much I enjoy it. And how fitting it is for a Quail Bell(e). The Decemberists' fifth effort is a grandiose concept album, a twisted fairy tale in which the vocalists play characters.
Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond sings the part of Margaret who falls in love with shapeshifter William, the Decemberists' lead singer Colin Meloy. William's jealous and vindictive adopted mother, a fairy queen, is voiced by Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond. She and the Rake, who murdered his three children, add conflict to what would be a simple love story between Margaret and William. The basic plot alone sounds like the making of a Grimm's fairy tale.
The Hazards of Love presents a more ambitious, intense sound than the Decemberists' usual folksy fare. Shara Worden is a particularly strong example of this with her powerful, emotion-wrought vocals, notably in “The Queen's Rebuke/The Crossing” and (my personal favorite) “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid.” Worden embodies the Queen and owns her angry reaction to William and Margaret's love. And listening to “The Wanting Comes in Waves (Reprise)” is a transcendent (I'm not exaggerating) experience. It never fails to give me goosebumps, the sign of a not just good but truly great song.
In essence, the Hazards of Love provides a rich musical experience. It's combines the pleasure of reading a book or hearing a story and listening to music. And that should be enough to satisfy any Quail Bell(e).
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