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PERPETUAL CHANGE: StormMiguel Florez “Long Lost Sun”

| Feb 14, 2011
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Last month, Perpetual Change featured an interview with trans musician/singer/songwriter StormMiguel Forez.  This month, we feature a review of his latest release, 2010’s Long Lost Sun, his first project since transistioning. (Produced by StormMiguel Florez.)

The album is what most reviewers would call minimalistic, or just plain bare bones production. Most of the material is simply Florez and his guitar, giving the listener a preview of what Florez sounds like in a live setting.

That’s not a criticism by any means.  Florez doesn’t appear to be the kind of performer who sounds one way on record and totally different live. His approach to the singer/songwriter genre isn’t necessarily unique, but considering the fact that he looks like Elvis Costello and sounds a lot like Bob Dylan most of the time gives him something of an edge for a transman musician.

The first two tunes, Legend and Song For Bridgid show off this Dylanesque quality quite well, especially …Bridgid, which has a very strong vocal built around a tune that works off one chord.

Long Lost Sun, the title cut, is probably the strongest tune on the project, even though it’s still a guitar/voice piece.  If you didn’t know anything about Florez’s background, it would be easy to overlook the following lyrics as just interesting word play:

“I’m your boy and you don’t even know it
I’m your boy and you don’t even care
Got my skin and my markings to show it
Got your nose my daddy’s hair……………
……you look like you’ve seen a ghost….
It’s just your long lost son”

On My Cup Is Empty, Florez brings in Terese Taylor as guest vocalist towards the end of the tune.

Another of the strongest tunes, Something Better (that also features guest musician Alex Andrist on banjo), is to me one of the most surprising moments on the album.  I’m going to hint at my age here and ask if anyone remembers the third Led Zeppelin album, the one that was mostly acoustic?  The first time I heard Something Better, that Zeppelin album came to mind right away.  It has that kind balance between looseness and intensity that Zep deftly achieved  during those brief moments when they went acoustic.  Quite an accomplishment for Florez to pull that off.

Another favorite, Lily also features Mr. Andrist on bass and percussion, and this time  channels Johnny Cash.  It has the Johnny Cash staccato feel and even includes this line: “I’ll be your Johnny/You be my June.”  Maybe a totally shameless reference to his inspiration, but who really cares?  Florez is obviously comfortable enough to acknowledge his influences and could care less what anyone thinks.

The album closes with Home Burial which is very poignant, in fact almost kind of a sad commentary on the futility of our corporeal existence.  Okay, so I got all philosophical on you there, but it impressed me that Florez would close out Long Lost Sun with something that most people would regard as a downer message.  Once again, though, who really cares?   Florez wants to leave his listeners with something to think about, and with Long Lost Sun, he more than accomplishes that.

The only bit of criticism I have about the project involves a production technique.  When listening to Long Lost Sun on a decent stereo, or even a decent boom-box type player, you’ll sometimes notice a bit too much echo on Florez’s voice.  In the more laid back moments, the echo is noticeable and it shouldn’t be.

But that’s nit-picking.  This is a wonderful album with a lot of great moments.  I hope that sometime down the road, Florez can obtain the budget necessary to record with a full band, or even just a smaller ensemble of skilled players with studio experience.  No telling how that would color the music that StormMiguel Florez still has to offer.

ALSO THIS MONTH

Last month, I made mention briefly of the special edition, re-release of George Michael’s Faith.  As I said at that time, this project has nothing to do with being transgender or the trans music community, but Michael’s music, especially from that era, still means a lot to a lot of people.

Who would have thought that right after Wham! called it quits, George Michael would go on to release one of the ‘80s most successful projects?  To date, global sales of Faith have topped 20 million units. It dominated the charts in the U.S. and Britain for the better part of 1987, the year it was released.

The new re-issue Faith contains the original album plus a second disc of rare cuts, out takes, instrumental versions, and just plain interesting stuff that’s mostly for the die hard fan.

I have to admit that at the time, I personally didn’t pay all that much attention to George Michael and was only familiar with the radio tunes.  I did see him at the concert for the Millennium  March in DC in 2000. I’ve always liked his voice, and never knew he was the accomplished musician he is.

He’s credited with keyboards, drums, bass, and in the case of songs such as Hard Day and I Want Your Sex, is credited with all instruments.

If you remember that era at all, we were just getting over disco and MTV still played videos. The beginnings of what is now dance music can be found on Faith,  the title cut, I Want Your Sex, and Monkey.

The very breathy vocal style Michael uses as a signature sound is best found on Kissing A Fool, which is perhaps the best showcase for his voice on the entire album. Also check out One More Try for that smooth, breathy voice.  The closest thing to rock is Look At Your Hands.

The second disc is a unique collection of musical oddities. There are instrumental versions of Faith” and Kissing A Fool, of which the latter sounds like good big band material when the vocals are removed.

Extra cuts include I Believe When I Fall In Love, which works as a dance tune even though it’s laid back, and a live version of Love’s In Need Of Love Today, which is interesting, but not a great live recording or mix.

There are three versions of Monkey – – an a cappella with beats version, a remix, and an edit version which is a good dance mix.

All in all, disc two is for the die hard George Michael fan, but interesting stuff nonetheless. This is an album that definitely deserved a re-issue.

And it wouldn’t be a good month without some new remix projects to mention.

The remix disc of Jessie and The Toy Boys Push It features the album version taken from the EP along with 10 other remix cuts.  The project is the brain child of Jessie Malakouti, and this is definitely dance/pop material that will fill dance floors.  Expect to start hearing a lot of this young lady’s music.

England’s Ellie Goulding’s Lights project will be released soon in March. Until then, the remix disc of Starry Eyed is out and contains the album cut, along with an instrumental version and five remix versions.  Described as “electro-folk-acoustic-pop”, the songs take dance mixes to a more musical place than just something with a rhythm to dance to.


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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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