Tag Archives: Joe Pisapia

The Soulful Sounds of Kwesi Kankam

28 Mar

Kwesi Kankam

Kwesi Kankam is an eclectic musician. Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Kankam (who is of Ghanaian descent) moved to Toledo, Ohio where he was raised. Kankam received a football scholarship to Lehigh University, but his love of music eventually got behind the tacklers and sacked him (hooray for awful football analogies!)

I mention Kankam’s interesting past because his music reflects it. Kankam’s diverse soul-influenced folk encompasses multifarious simplicity. Before you call me out on this contradictory juxtaposition of words, let me explain.

Kankam’s music features everything from orchestral strings to Africana beats to horns, but, ultimately, when stripped down to its bare roots, the music is simple and calm like a relaxed pair of jeans. It is Kankam’s airy, light-hearted croon and an acoustic guitar.

Ultimately, no matter how much music you add to the background, the artist must be a proficient singer and there needs to be an instrument like a guitar or a piano played well. Kankam excels at both.

“Brunettes,” my favorite track off of Kankam’s debut EP, Ran Away From Me, which was released in March of last year, begins with Kankam and his acoustic guitar – quickly drums and keys are added. Kankam’s voice is a sip of hot cocoa in a cozy coffee shop. His smooth croon is one part Danny O’Donoghue, one part Ben Harper or Joe Pisapia. The vocal inflections are skillful, and his layered melodies are wonderful. The repeated riff stays true to the piece as Kankam manipulates the sound with tiny electric guitar segments and creative keys. Tap your feet. Sip your cocoa. The song makes you as comfortable as reclining in a La-Z-Boy.

“Long Days, Short Nights” features eclectic rhythms and instrumentation (almost like a Dave Matthews song) that create a worldly atmosphere. Think rooty folk mixed with modern Indie folk – sort of like Rusted Root mixed with Calexico. The mixture is euphonious and Kankam’s voice fits the music to perfection. Best of all, despite that the song is almost 5:30, I never felt bored. The music flows like water in a small creek, and, like “Brunettes” it is infectious and easy.

Keep up with Kwesi Kankam: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Lyric of the Day: “Dancing Partner” by Joe Pisaspia

7 Dec

We embark on a journey back in time. A sojourn in the bright-eyed days of 2009. Oh, the nostalgia is killing me. The Music Court has not clicked the category option of lyric of the day for way too long. And, this in unacceptable. Every category should get love. So, for today’s post, we concentrate on a lyric that can set your night right. And, we rhyme. Because, that’s what we do here. Rhymes and old times with musical chimes. Shut up and get to the song. Okay!

Joe Pisapia is often referred to as “that balding guy from Guster,” but he is certainly much more than that. This multi-instrumentalist is a talented singer-songwriter that has been an essential part of Guster since he jumped on-board 7 years ago. Recently, after completing Guster’s new album Easy Wonderful, he left the band to explore a project with musician, k.d. lang.

A solo release in 2002 by Pisapia is often looked over by fans of Guster. But, if you want a good listen and you are a fan of Guster, definitely check out Pisapia’s work on Daydreams.

Here is my favorite lyric from my favorite song, “Dancing Partner”

To set the scene, Pisapia’s character goes to visit his grandmother (I think) in a nursing home and they discuss how it has been 27 years ago since her husband passed away and how she refuses to dance with anyone now because her dancing partner is away.

It is a sad song. Pisapia’s smooth, innocent voice is a perfect compliment to the piano rhythm that is jumpy and bubbly. But, as the song hits the chorus the piano draws out and we are left with extended vocal and piano notes that help the song. Here is the lyric

“Driving home so late that night
My mind still recollecting
All the many things we talked about
Like living with and then without

I wondered to myself if I would
Ever love someone that way
And in the echoes of that night
I still can see her as she’s saying,

When they play that music
I turn the other way
Since my dancing partner’s away”

That last segment is repeated throughout the song and it just works so well. I like the story above everything. It is personal and allows the listener to explore one single scene/conversation of dealing with loss. Just well done.

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