If you withheld the title and artist info from me the first time I put this in, and instead told me that this was a new solo record by Kendra Smith (ex of Dream Syndicate), I would?ve believed you and thought, hey, cool! Then if you told me ha ha, no, it?s really Rebecca Gates, I would?ve said ?Huh, with mostly acoustic instruments, great idea!? But it?s neither of them, though, so stop messing with me. Silver Street is the work of Chris Wedertz, who can narrate her slow melodies with a sad alto betraying the same kind of puzzled engagement as the aforementioned Smith and Gates. Wedertz has been in bands with which I?m not familiar (Lackadaisy, Bonk Bonk Madi), but here she works solo (but apparently as a multi-instrumentalist; there are plenty of noises in the mix, and only one credit for a musician other than Wedertz), to compelling effect. She?s clearly absorbed her NW and NZ influences (a hint of Look Blue Go Purple, maybe, with that flute!), but there?s more going on here than the sum of all that.
Wedertz shows herself to be a fine storyteller on ?Innocence Just Kills You,? coolly observing a family dynamic in varying stages of flux or breakdown or wonder or all three. On ?Alive and Decaying? she compares the conflicts in a relationship to ?plutonium sludge? best left behind, a sadly evocative image in a song that?s otherwise about as close as Wedertz gets to jaunty. More representative of the mood of the proceedings is the haunting ?Noon,? a twisty folk meditation on shifting imagery which despite its wanderings resolves into a hook you could hear Bob Mould worrying over (incongruous, but true, honest!) This is Wedertz? mission: paint a picture over a linear melody, but follow it down to a phrase (verbal or musical) that will take hold, or that will sting: ?I?m thinking about how you?ll never catch up to the muse at the bottom of your cup?did I ever tell you you were a pain in the ass?? she dryly asks her antagonist (a wayward artist?) on ?Silver Street.?
The languid pace of most of these (generally percussion-free) songs sometimes masks barbs like that, but they?re part of what marks Wedertz? best work. A bit more dynamic variation might highlight her skills better than the somewhat monochromatic production here, but this somber album is well worth seeking out as it is. 8/10 -- Sal Addays (25 May, 2005)