By Michael Getzler
There’s nothing intrinsic about the poetry of Dorothy Parker that makes it good material to be made into music. Yet, this is exactly what Ottawa-born singer Myriam Gendron has done with Not So Deep as a Well. A copy-editor and book dealer, she discovered Parker’s poetry on the job one day, and upon reading it, she instantly felt a connection to music. She sings in a rather unaffected manner, which at first did not do much for me. I got no sense of what the emotions behind these songs. It’s easy to get lost in the lulling beauty of Gendron’s guitar playing. However, once I started paying close attention to the lyrics, this album was transformed into a hilariously biting outlook on love. In “Solace,” a girl whose lover has left her is comforted by others who tell her that “there’s many another lad.” In this song, Gendron’s singing a tale of melancholy, which creates a contrast with her pleasant guitar melodies. It captures perfectly the irony that is at the center of Parker’s poetry.
“Ballad of a Great Weariness” works similarly, with Gendron singing about how one should avoid love, repeating the mantra “scratch a lover, and find a foe.” I would have expected poems like these to inspire songs with much more sadness and weeping from the singer, yet Gendron chooses to avoid this route. She makes Parker’s poetry into songs that retain all of the poem’s words, yet they have new meanings, due to the flowery guitar sound and Gendron’s refusal to sing to the poem’s content.
Get Myriam Gendron's album here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/not-so-deep-as-a-well/id826482193
Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/mamabirdrecordingco/solace