Have you ever had a long, whimsical, narrative dream? The kind that seems so real, but so beautiful and fanciful that it must be a dream. And yet, you don’t want to wake up? Or maybe you’ve played that level of Super Mario Bros. 3, when Mario jumps on the bouncy, levitated music note and is sent up into the clouds. The music becomes subdued and expressive as Mario jumps through the clouds collecting coins, and you wish he could stay there forever, out of the danger of attacking mushrooms and plants.
That is sort of what it feels like to listen to Chocolate Paper Suites, the fourth album by local musician and songwriter, Krista Detor. Split into five “suites”, the album is true testament to Detor’s imaginative curiosity and skills as an inspired songwriter.
Drawing from a range of muses including Dylan Thomas, Lorca, and even Charles Darwin, Chocolate Paper Suites, is a thematic album about the phases of life, love, and loss. Topics range from the imaginative life of a street-side fruit salesman (“Rich Man’s Life”), to the unspoken hints of a crush (“Innuendo”), and comes to conclusion with a lullabye from wife to husband about the loss of a child (“Emma’s Lullabye”).
Each suite contains three songs that seamlessly flow together, making the album feel like an endless narrative. However, clever arrangements and smooth transitions keep the album refreshing; there is never a point of repetition or tedium. In fact, if you put it in your CD player (assuming you still listen to CDs), you can quickly find yourself swaying along into song six, before you even realize it. (NOTE: For this reason I do NOT recommend listening to this album while driving at night, at least not the first time.)
A special treat for fan’s of Detor’s work, the fifth suite includes her repertoire from the 2009 Darwin Songhouse, an event commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of naturalist and evolutionist Charles Darwin. The three songs were written by Detor for the event, which took place in Shrewsbury, England in which she and seven other songwriters were selected to write songs inspired by Darwin’s life and work.
Overall, this album is amazing. I give it 5 stars, two thumbs up, and A+, whatever you would like to use to indicate outstanding. The lyrics are dreamy, witty, and truthful. The music has a very natural and acoustic sound that is both comforting and intriguing. Chocolate Paper Suites is a beautiful collection of songwriting from an artist who deserves much more credit than she has been given.