This is a strange book to review, mainly I think because I’m not really sure if it can be called a “book”, in a sense. No offence to Vashti – she’s a real talent, and I’m all for mixing up styles and formats – but the majority the book’s content was songs from her YouTube catalogue, which was a somewhat disproportionate and disappointing ratio. Vashti is a beautiful soft-folk/classical songwriter, with a soprano voice, but I don’t think I’d buy a book of song lyrics, given the choice.
The stories (as in standard narrative format) number only the one, and that is the title piece which opens the collection – I expected and would have liked to see several more. After that, it is pretty much entirely poetry and song lyrics, with an emphasis very much on the latter, garnished with the wonderful, vivid fabric art of this book’s co-contributor. It is a very interesting composition, but I would say perhaps that it comes across more as an album cover or insert literature. The pieces individually – the songs; the poems; the artwork – are at times quite exquisite, but the sum of these parts has no ongoing narrative or particular context, so I’m not really sure if a book is the best place for it, except perhaps for those who already know and enjoy Vashti’s work (of which I’m sure there are many). The song lyrics, in my opinion, don’t translate well into written prose for reading. I did listen to some of the songs, via the links in the ebook, and the music is quite lovely, but if you’re going to do that, surely you might as well just buy the album instead. Indeed, by the end I got the impression that this book felt like more of a showcase for the musical work of Vashti and the art of collaborator Carol. Nothing wrong with that, but reader just be aware.
The poetry, on the other hand, is quite special. I’m very fond of poetry when it’s good, and Vashti’s is very good, with the same lyrical beauty she puts into her music; "Blue Butterfly" is my favourite, and a real showpiece. This may be what tempted her to think that publishing the song lyrics as if they were prose would work, but you can tell the distinct difference between reading music and poetry. Furthermore, I found it incredibly difficult as a book reviewer to rate two-thirds of this book, because I’m not someone with a mind to imagine music on a page. I would go as far as to say that I awarded my rating almost entirely for the quality of the poetry – I just wish there was more from Vashti; I would love to see it making up the lion’s share of this book. It would go wonderfully well with Carol’s artwork, as well as a handful more of Vashti’s lovely fables. Record music; publish stories, poetry and art – much more suitable vehicles, I think, for Vashti’s immense and varied talent.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: vashti-stopher-klein art poetry song-lyrics collaboration