Seth Kibel - Songs of Snark and Despair

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Generally known as a jazz artist specializing in klezmer music and instrumentals, Kibel here presents for the first time a set of songs with lyrics. Having been on the scene for a couple of decades now, what could have caused the multi-instrumentalist (sax, clarinet and flute) to suddenly find that he has something to say? Well you can blame or bless the guy in the White House; Kibel found himself writing lyrics when he was stunned by the election of President Donald Trump. The New Orleans-style jazz of the title cut kicks off the album, and while the fun rhythm of the song and amusing lyrics like "Some folks go on hunger strikes/But I like food too much" give the song a novelty feeling, Kibel is in fact making serious socio-political observation; he's just doing it in a palatable way. You might guess that not being a lyric writer that Kibel is not a singer either, and here he entrusts the vocal chores to pals like Black Betty, who powers the sax-enhanced R&B of "240 Years," a cut that chronicles some of the lowlights of the history of the U.S., namechecking folks like Richard Nixon, slave-owning president Andrew Jackson, tail-chasing Bill Clinton and of course, "# 45." And while the lyrics are not delivered in too angry a manner and are likewise not likely to inspire anger, Kibel doesn't pull any punches with his words. A perfect example is album highlight "White Guilt," a seductive pop/samba sung by Flo Anito where the relaxed music is juxtaposed with words that put the "tense" in "racial tension." Probably the best way for fans to approach this album would be to come for the music; if the snark and despair don't grab you right away, rest assured that it will grow on you. Other guest singers on the effort include Billy Coulter, David Kitchen, Damon Foreman and Chris Urquiaga. Get it here

Seth Kibel - Songs of Snark and Despair

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