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Ellen Cherry - Years Review

Years is billed as a concept album, one that deals with life changing events in the life of a woman. On paper that could come across as a stilted, contrived excuse to underline the feminist's plight throughout history (or more aptly, herstory). On paper, that indeed may have been the case, but it's a far cry from the reality of music, Ellen Cherry's music specifically. Her clear, strong, believable voice is the ideal vehicle for these mini lessons in history, and perhaps more importantly, lessons in emotional personal trials and triumphs. The first cut, "1864: A Civil War Bride" serves as the introduction to Cherry's ability to tie actual events to genuine feelings and emotions. No doubt she drew on what she calls her "totally impractical" BA in military history to weave this tale of a war bride. Nostalgic yes, but unfortunately all too relevant today too. This Dallas-area native's own background is as storied as the fictional characters inhabiting her songs. Ellen Cherry is actually a pseudonym for Kristen Putchinski, a singer/songwriter/musician recording engineer/producer/designer whose side projects include playing with a Simon and Garfunkel tribute duo, an alt-Irish band, an 80s cover band, and a roots rock band, and has scored several indie films. Ellen/Kristen is also the owner of a recording studio, Wrong Size Shoes. No wonder she's got two persona; there's simply too much to do for just one person.

And no surprise that this Baltimore musical powerhouse is also the owner of a slightly warped and entirely enchanting sense of humor.

"1950: Inside the Music Box" sounds, on the surface, as light and breezy as the old radio laundry soap ad jingles---- until you get to the part where little Miss Suzy Homemaker admits to incendiary/pyromania leanings:

"Dusting cleaning, meals with meaning, perfect pastries…
Soon I can erase my will
By a swallow of a pill
If I had not squelched desire
I might have set this house on fire."

Ellen/Kristen or however she signs her checks deserves checking out. Whether she's putting music to her college thesis or shedding light on the secrets of multiple personalities, there's something about Cherry/Pritinski's particular (or peculiar) take on life that's definitely worth a listen. Repeatedly.

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Ellen Cherry - Years


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