Home > Events, Reviews > Anne Schaefer’s The Waiting Room Has Arrived – On Recording and In Concert

Anne Schaefer’s The Waiting Room Has Arrived – On Recording and In Concert

February 23, 2012

It’s been a long time coming but Anne Schaefer’s The Waiting Room is finally here.

And like her debut album Twelve Easy Pieces, it’s a major artistic success unlike anything you’ll hear anywhere else.

If you did want to classify it, I suppose you could call it “indie alt world jazz” or some such thing, but labels utterly fail her work as they fail the artist herself who, with her diverse talents as musician, composer, arranger, and vocalist, and with her many influences, simply can’t be put in a box.

And while the album has a unifying concept – a collection of imagined characters sitting in a room waiting for… well, mostly love, but also freedom, acceptance, and the unexpected – each song is unique, making for a kaleidoscopic ride through pop, jazz, classical, folk and world music forms, feels, and grooves, a journey that periodically surges into impressionism or slows into free-flowing ballads so awash with beauty and emotion they’ll make you weep.

And while traveling, Schaefer explores the universal themes of loss, love, decline, and renewal that artists have examined for ages. She does this in part through her ability to inhabit the skin of her characters lyrically while creating the right musical setting for their voices to emerge sonically. This ability is no more apparent than on the breathtaking Elixir, a song about aging so sublime that it just might break your heart.

I don’t want to get carried away and say that Schaefer is darn near Shakespearean in her range but I’m tempted. And lest that comparison make her album sound hopelessly lofty and serious, just know that, as with the bard, you’ll laugh a lot. Schaefer has a killer sense of humour and her lyrics and music reflect that.  “Please be apprised that my sensual guise is just a smokescreen/ ‘Cause I’ll clean your clock if you think you can just walk away,” from Black Canary is just one example of her wit.

A nod must  go to the fine musicians who accompany Schaefer and help her realize her vision. They are Scott White on bass, Kelby MacNayr on drums, Adrian Dolan on strings and accordion, Kevin Fox on voice and cello, and co-producer Joby Baker on drums and “clanging pipes.” Schaefer herself plays piano, guitar, shaker, “clanging pipes” and “boots.” Like I said, she has a sense of humour.

When Twelve Easy Pieces came out, critics across the country raved about Schaefer’s talent. Marke Andrews of the Vancouver Sun called the record “a thing of beauty.” Greg Quill of the Toronto Star referred to her “exceptional voice,” “poet’s eye,” and “courageous heart.” Andre Rheaume of Radio Canada heralded the arrival of a new star. The Waiting Room is a worthy successor to that album and deserves similar praise.

Schaefer herself uses superlatives like “amazing,” “spectacular,'” and “incredible” in her liner notes to thank all the people who helped make the recording possible. In speaking about the album,  I would add  “inventive,” “original,” “sensitive,” “startling,” “challenging,’ “lyric,” “intense,” and “beautiful.”

Well worth the wait, this is a gorgeous record worthy of attentive listening and many spins on your CD player.

Anne Schaefer launches The Waiting Room on Thursday, March 1, 8 pm, at Alix Goolden Hall.  Tickets are available in advance at Larsen Music and Lyle’s Place.  $20/$18 VJS and UJAM/$15 students and seniors. Doors open at 7:30. More info here.

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