Saturday, December 11, 2010


Cyndi Harvell

By JPegg

The Introduction: Cyndi Harvell, a singer-songwriter with a Deep South , Georgia origin of fried catfish, grits, and sweet tea, just released her second album and called it “From The Echo.” The music blooms with Southern accents, including hers, a slide guitar, and sometimes a banjo. She explains it as “an album about freedom and release and moving away from the things that hold us back towards the things that give us hope.” Harvell’s angelic voice has that feel of hope, freedom, and release, while the ominous devil wan of the slide guitar lingers close. Each song aspires to spread her wings to escape from the grasp of the worldly evils. Being a musician is difficult, she is often filled with doubt while pursuing forward as if it is her only nature. Her poetic lyrics express this persistence. The following are Cyndi Harvell’s “From The Echo” album of eleven songs in order with eleven possible lyric interpretations about her struggles and wonders of being an independent artist:

1. From The Echo:
The musician thing is tough, a turbulent task, but Harvell will not giving in “until the walls cave in from the echo.” She will do until she cannot do no more. She will starve through the slow movements and fight against the wind, the crowd, and the negative noise. She is a soldier in endless battle, in war with the self, others, and surrounding temptations, often stuck on waiting for the next inspiration, idea, with fear that it may not appear again, but the tighter she holds firm to her aspirations, the greater she desires to not let go. She will create her art until it destroys her, self-sacrificing.

2. Lighthouse: Harvell uses a lighthouse as metaphor for her music: “Oh, lighthouse. Ah, burning sound. Oh, I found a way around.” Her music is a beacon to herself and others. Music is her form of art that has helped to find meaning within her and can help others as well. Though, she has lost faith in the human race, she is uncertain if she sings because her hate for society inspires her or she hates the way it is, but cares enough to attempt to change things. She is a lighthouse not only for those that are lost at sea with themselves, but also for those that feel content yet not right in heart. Her music is her light and she shines it bright for anybody that desires to listen.

3. Middleman: “I am the middleman, laying down the road for your false starts.” She draws a line between the pros and cons, as if it will easily decide if she should continue. It is ridiculous. This is the doubting center of being an artist. There are no clear and distinct lines or paths for this craft. Concrete logic is a hindrance. There is no black and white answer to decide if her art is good or bad, meaningful or useless, purposeful or not. There is no true form to prove an artist. Others place a value upon it when it is priceless. The pressure of attempting to categorize, label, and market the artist causes the artist to doubt their work and capabilities. Artists may fool themselves not to be artists when they start drawing that middle line.

4. Northbound: It is about being careful to have a unique idea in life. Once a genuine idea takes form it becomes like a cloud that is always above, never falling, always headed “Northbound.” It is also about keeping up hope, keeping the spirit lifted. There will be losses and distractions, but keep heading in the positive direction. It is also about doubt, which is like an idea in
the opposite form. Once doubt enters the thought, it will constantly hinder the will, “don’t say the wrong words now.” It is about the highs and lows. Uniqueness has its consequences. The artist makes a choice to keep moving toward the vision or fall away and be safe. It is easier to conform to a system than to stay original. However, the artist that conforms ceases to be a truthful artist.

5. Loaded Question: “I’m a loaded question. I’m a loaded gun.” This is also about self-doubt of choosing the less traveled path. Do not try to stop and question the choice to continue searching for the end of the rainbow. Although the purpose is often a thought, there should not be moments of indecision of letting go. Do not question to be an artist or not. Keep on the steady stride, though it may sometimes feel like self-punishment, do not stop and rest and wonder if it is time to call it quits. Doubt only serves as an artist killer.

6. Off Chance: Do not let others decide what is best for an artist’s art. Whether others see the work as good or bad, do not let them sway the vision. Once again, it is the line between the two, trying to make an exact decision of what is the right thing to do, “in the off chance that I might be a little wrong.” It is as though others think they know what is best for her. She tried as an artist. Now others feel it is time to fail and adapt to safer prospects. She feels the strain. She wants to be normal, but at the same time, she does not want to give up. She is different. She is an artist and knows she can never be normal. It is the super hero no longer wanting the super powers. Being different is lonely,
but being the same will make her feel unfaithful to herself.

7. Eye of a Needle: “I’ll be your cliché anytime.” She knows she is another typical struggling artist with woes, doubts, and dreams. She is the typical country girl that packed for the city lights in hopes for stardom. It is not an original story or scenario. She sold her stuff, left home, and headed for the big city for success. It is not certain whether she considers herself a cliché success star, or a cliché starving artist. She is not the first, last, and there will be endless others like her.

8. Break For It: “Heads turned, we go for it, call out and we ignore it. This is my break for it.” This is her escape from the normal. She feels imprisoned. Her pent up frustrations finally takes hold of her mind and releases in an escape. Once again, she is uncertain if it was the right thing to do. “You make your mistakes, I make my clean breaks. High fives and handshakes all around.” She compares others’ mistakes to her escape. Others that are with her accept her for what she has done, but somewhere inside she feels that it may have been a mistake. She is now in an unfamiliar and unsafe environment, far from feeling home. She got away, but uncertain if it was the right action. She planned her prison break and destination, but not the connection between. It is like the prisoner obtaining freedom, but lost on finding a path, because prison life beforehand had forced a path without free decision. There must not only be a plan for the break, but a planned opportunity, not just hope of finding a line to sign before money and luck runs dry.

9. The Underside: “I’m on the underside of it all and it wants to know what I’m made of.” She has achieved freedom, but now is on the journey to discover her calling. She throws herself under the spotlight platform, open and exposed. What side will she show? The pressure is upon her to prove herself or to find herself. She attempts to express, but at the same time is lost in her voice. It is the struggle to discover and uncover the meaning, finding answers in the abstract. It is the perspiration in the inspiration and not letting doubt dry out the search. The artist never knows where the next idea will come from, as if stuck in the underside of the unknown until it does seed the mind. An artist is in endless search for meaning and understanding to express truths when found.

10. Like a Whisper: “Like a whisper we let a little bit out, the unheard, like a whisper.” Facts fill life and often one does not take the time to decipher its meaning. Artists see the facts, read between the lines, and release a truth as art that others often understand like a whisper. Artists hide revealing truths about life in their art. They do not pound it over the head of others. They say here it is in a form of a song, a painting, words, or any other form of art, but one must look closely to find its meaning, to find it is possibly an answer to life’s big question, or a comment on it. It is up to the accepting to decipher meaning and not expect the artist to divulge answers. It is as though the answer has transferred to the art and no longer with the artist. Question the art, not the artist. Look and listen close to understand what the art is attempting to whisper.

11. Afterlife: “I got this thorn in my side and there’s nothing I can do, no, nothing I can do, no. If I take it out I would die, but I’m afraid of the afterlife, the afterlife.” Being an artist is a constant pain, like wearing a crown of thorns to be king, but she is also afraid of what she may become if she does not travel her chosen path. A king without a crown is just a man. She without her art will cease her to be. Things are not going as she hoped and thought. Now it feels like a burdening pain she wants to get rid of, but afraid to do so, for she is afraid she will wither. Without her art, what will be left of her? Her creative talent is now but a thorn that brings her pain, but it is her only gift. She looks for love or another focus different from her craft, so that possibly she can escape the pain. She has not given up, yet, but that is only because she is afraid to do so, for there will be nothing left for her except the afterlife, the death to inspiration.

In Conclusion: This album appears hidden with woes, doubts, and regrets of her decision to become a musician in the big city, but she continues to persevere. The album title “From The Echo” is initially confusing, because as the title track states, “We will ride it out until the walls cave in from the echo.” Has the echo caved the walls in on her or did it inspire her to create this album? Is the echo her voice or the voice of others? There are abundances of irresolute questions and answers found in her confound poetic lyrics. Maybe it is a matter of what it means to the listener, and not what it actually says, like a whisper that the ear does not hear complete with the listener filling the gaps. She creates the maze for listeners to turn into a quest to search within themselves. She has clues to help find answers. However, does she have the answers to these clues? She, too, may be uncertain. Maybe it is not what we make of her music, but rather what we take from it.