Wednesday, September 7, 2011

“Sonia - Who I Am” (Disappear Records)

Sonia (Rutstein) is a singer-songwriter from Baltimore who is perhaps most associated with her various performing and recording units known as “Disappear Fear”. The name was applied in the 90’s to what might be termed an electric punk-folk band, but has been used more recently as the name of the duo in which Sonia and her sister Cindy Frank sing Phil Ochs songs (check out their CD, “Get Your Phil”). (Cindy was with the earlier band as well.)

This nine-song DVD collects Sonia performances from over a 16-year period, 1994 to 2010, from the days of the earlier Disappear band to more recent solo performances. These range from straight-out live performance clips to more produced music videos. There’s quite a bit of variety, from a song sung in Hebrew and English to protest/topical songs to blues. Most of the songs are Sonia’s own compositions, though there is one Phil Ochs song (“No More Songs, filmed in 2004, not by the current duo) and one (“By My Silence”) written by fellow singer-songwriters Ellen Bukstel and Nick Annis.

Though I personally tend to prefer the solo concert clips, there’s some more “arranged” material that sounds quite nice. Visuals range from photo-collage to the John Densmore-directed video for the disc’s title song, which features a young solo dancer in a rehearsal studio. It’s gratifying to see and hear Sonia in a number of different settings over a period of years, thus giving the viewer/listener a better chance to experience the various aspects of the artist’s musical offerings.

This DVD will probably have the most immediate appeal to Sonia’s sizable fan following. But since it’s being sold on her website -
for less than the price of one of her CD’s, it should make for a most agreeable introduction to the artist’s work. You might click the link to her paintings as well. A woman of multiple talents!

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