If ever there was an album dedicated to English majors, this is it. Sonnet is the output of Trammel Starks, the creator of the Taliesin Orchestra, and is as lofty a goal as its subject matter. According to Starks, he wants to “express the passion and timeless wisdom of William Shakespeare within a contemporary musical landscape.” To do this, he gathered up some of the most celebrated Shakespearean actors from the Globe Theater, collaborated with vocalist Felicia Sorensen, and wrote a collection of songs ranging in styles from world, ambient, classical, and contemporary jazz.
The product, needless to say, is interesting in a very peculiar fashion. Each of the twelve tracks starts off with an actor’s representation of a famous Shakespearean sonnet, which is slowly accompanied by the musical track and, when the sonnet is over, Sorensen’s trained vocal chords kick in. The forthcoming lyrics range in tone and language, spanning Old English to Italian and usually rather cryptic in overwhelming meaning. With these tight structures and impressive interjections from Shakespeare’s pen, Sonnet is quite an interesting listen for anyone who invests any significant interest or pleasure into the British bard’s writing. Yet, to appreciate the musical entirety of the album, a tolerance for smooth jazz is absolutely required. This is undoubtedly an impressive project and an inventive product, but its downfall, unlike Shakespeare’s, may be the unfortunately small demographic that can actually appreciate it.
KOCH Records, 740 Broadway, New York, NY 10003; http://www.kochint.com