CD Review: Beki Hemingway, “I Have Big Plans For The World”
Roughly 80% of the albums released in the last ten years are too long. Of them, half are re-released a month later with extra tracks that make them even longer, and the ratio of filler-to-keeper is shockingly high. So it was with great surprise to myself when my first thought about Beki Hemingway’s newest I Have Big Plans For The World was, “This is just far too short.”
I’ve been a fan of Hemingway since the early ’90s when she was co-vocalist in the band This Train, so I went into listening to the EP assuming I would not dislike it. I also assumed this would be a more acoustic-driven set of songs, more in keeping with her output in recent years. Yet, to my delight, this disc is very clearly, predominantly a rock collection, leading off with the raucous “Lose My Mind.” And it doesn’t let up from there. The next three tunes are “Last Wish,” “Northbound Traffic,” and “Lay It Down” and all make the list for windows-down-volume-up listening conditions. The one sedate tune of the batch, “Finnieston” benefits from a gorgeous arrangement and, because of its surroundings, packs a double-punch by not being a rocker.
To Hemingway’s credit, all the songs are either written or co-written by her and they all clearly reflect the worldview of a mature adult. This is a tough remit for a lot of artists who feel the need to eternally be seventeen years old, sing of seventeen year old things, and fool nobody in the attempt. Not that she is entirely comfortable with the status, mind you — the lyric in the chorus of “Last Wish” goes, “Put the last kid off to bed, I’m…tired of crawling, tired of stalling.” It’s not a fiction, nor a sugary reflection of where an adult may be at this stage in their life, feeling closed in by the routines that have come to define one’s existence.
But it cannot be stated enough that the six-song collection achieves the rare distinction of leaving the listener wanting more, not less. The instrumentation sticks closely to the tried and true basics: guitar, bass, drums and Hemingway’s “I am not messing around here” vocal delivery. Guests on the disc include The Wayside’s John & Michelle Thompson and keys from a recent Popdose contributor Jonathan Rundman, and by the time you’ve reached the closing “Skybound” you’re wondering why it was over so soon. What an interesting feeling.