Waiting Room reflects diversity of society


October 2, 2012

The Waiting Room
By Anne Schaefer
Baker Studios 2012, Victoria B.C.
A MAPL qualified album (composed, performed, and recorded by a Canadian)

Reviewed By Kelvin Chan

It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to categorize Anne Schaefer’s second album, The Waiting Room into any one musical genre. The styles exhibited in the 11 tracks are eclectic: each is linked to one of the 11 “patients” in the “waiting room,” reflecting a condition they suffer from. According to Anne Schaefer, who composed, sang, played, and produced the album herself, life is like a waiting room, where people of different ages, cultural backgrounds and walks of life have one thing in common: they all suffer variously from the human condition.

During my first spin of the CD, it became evident that Anne Schaefer is as multi-faceted as her imaginary characters. Take the opening track, Fragile, for example, where her raspy, thin tone makes Georgia’s condition, “acute sensitivity,” all the more delicate. Or Black Canary, where her playful, seductive teasing breathes life into Dinah’s dark super-heroine fantasy. Schaefer’s collaborators are a talented bunch as well: the prominent cello accompaniment in Elixir is played by Kevin Fox with robust, rich tone, sumptuously blending into the smooth vocal harmonies.

Although each track is largely unique in terms of mood, I noticed that more than half of the CD features prominent piano lead-ins, which helped establish the mood effectively but were just a bit predictable—the rigid timbre of the piano’s recorded sound didn’t help either. It was a welcome change when I arrived at Track 8, which began with the exotic sonorities of a bandoneon probably sampled from a folk band. Titled Chanson d’amour, it is also the only song in the album that is sung in French—in the intoxicating key of B minor, no less.

The whole production is polished: the tracks are well-engineered and recorded. I was especially excitied to read in the liner notes that the album was produced from beginning to end in Victoria’s Baker Studios. Musically speaking, The Waiting Room offers plenty of diversity to satisfy listeners of all types, especially indie enthusiasts who are tired of the predictability of mainstream pop.
The noble, we-are-all-different-but-we-are-all-in-this-together artistic concept behind the album comes across well and raises awareness about the heterogeneity in society. Schaefer reminds us that the human condition, like our options in musical taste, is perhaps more diverse than represented by blind worship of a barely-legal teenage boy or gaga responses to a provocatively dressed woman.

Kelvin Chan is a fourth-year Music student.

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