Friday, March 07, 2008

Collective Soul - Afterwords

I was a fan of Collective Soul ever since I heard their hit single "Shine" way back in 1994. Then came "December" and "The World I Know" in 1995, and after that, "Listen" in 1997, and I knew that their music were something really special. Unfortunately, I didn't follow them or their music after their 1997 album, Disciplined Breakdown, but I'm sure I must have missed a lot these last ten years!

Their latest album, Afterwords, sound slightly different from their older albums, a little more bright and cheerful, but the unique sound that I love about them is still there. Ed Roland's voice is still the same husky voice I fell in love with years ago, but I think it sounds even better now. What I really love about his voice in this album is that it still has the vulnerability that comes out so well in Collective Soul's older songs, but now it also has a sort of strong, sit-up-and-take-notice tone to it that I didn't notice before.

Admittedly, since I haven't been listening to them since the Disciplined Breakdown album, what's new to me may be old to other fans. As I've said previously, a change I've noticed is that Afterwords sounds a lot brighter and more cheerful compared to their older albums.

Most of their hit songs in the 90's were what I'd describe as angst-filled; while the music and lyrics were never negative, they were more gloomy with a passionately hopeless feel to them. Listening to Afterwords after being so used to their older songs, is almost like getting bowled over by a happy, energetic Golden Retriever puppy after coming home from a dead-end 9 to 5 job that you're resigned to, and nothing illustrates it more than their first single from this album, "Hollywood". It is one of the happiest, cheeriest, brightest, and catchiest songs I have ever heard, and I absolutely love it!

Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean that I didn't love their older songs, on the contrary, I absolutely loved them too, but this album is truly a fresh breath of air. I enjoyed all the songs on Afterwords but as usual, I have my favorites, particularly "What I Can Give You", "Bearing Witness", "All That I Know", and of course, the best one of all, "Hollywood".

Having said that, I do have hopes that Collective Soul might write some new songs in that old gloomy tone of theirs that I loved. It would be good to have both some happy and gloomy songs to listen to in their future albums. In the meantime though, I'll just enjoy being really cheerful while listening to Collective Soul's Afterwords.

More music from Collective Soul:

The Red Dahlia by Lynda La Plante

The Black Dahlia case has always fascinated, and at the same time, disgusted, me. It is one of the most gruesome murders in history, and the fact that it was never solved makes it all the more horrifying. It is also probably one of the main reason why people are still so fascinated with the case after so many years have gone by.

Lynda La Plante has taken her fascination to another level in her book The Red Dahlia. While it isn't directly about The Black Dahlia case itself, the book uses the case as a basis for a copy-cat murder by someone trying to emulate The Black Dahlia killer.

Keep in mind that The Red Dahlia isn't about The Black Dahlia case, but a work of fiction about a sick and disgusting killer who killed his victims and taunted the police in almost exactly the same fashion as The Black Dahlia killer did. Consequently, there is a lot of interesting and terrifying details about The Black Dahlia case, but after that is where the similarity ends.

Much of the first half of the book describes the murders and the similarities between the two cases, and how the murderer was trying to copy The Black Dahlia killer. Fortunately, unlike The Black Dahlia case, Detectives Anna Travis and James Langton manage to find the killer of The Red Dahlia. The second half of the book focuses on finding evidence and implicating the killer.

What I liked most about La Plante's The Red Dahlia is the factual, no-nonsense presentation of the story. La Plante writes in a very straightforward manner without adding unnecessary frills or details, even with the personal and romantic scenes, and it makes The Red Dahlia read like a very professional account of an actual case. The personal and romantic scenes only serve to make us care about the protagonists, and they add to rather than take away, from the reading experience.

All in all, The Red Dahlia is an extremely thrilling read, although gory, with a lot of both fascinating and gruesome details about The Black Dahlia case, and in its own right. Parts of the book may be slow going, but I highly recommend it to readers with strong stomachs. Stay away from this book if you're the type that can't handle gore, though.

More books from Lynda La Plante:

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