A onetime reality TV star (MTV’s The Real World: New York) who launched her musical career touring with Squeeze, Aimee Mann, Matchbox 20, Chris Whitley and Jon Bon Jovi, all around creative Renaissance Woman Rebecca Blasband makes a massively bold claim about the inspiration behind Here, her compelling return to the singer-songwriter fold after years away.
She declares that the songs are a collaboration with the spirit of John Lennon. She’s very time specific about it, too. At NYU in 1987, she and a couple of friends spent time with his spirit and developed a warm friendship with it. Four years later, she says, “John and I reconnected” and began a musical collaboration that lasted until 2000 and produced these 11 solid, edgy and insightful pop/rock tracks – now seeing the light of day 18 years later. She makes the caveat that this is not a John Lennon album, but “spirit is real.”
That’s a fascinating way to explain a legendary inspiration, but the reality is that Blasband’s songs are likeable, relatable, hummable and dynamic, even without the connection on high. She taps into the simple, organic spirit of Lennon’s “Love” on her beautiful, intimate opener “Love Is,” sharing her own unique impressions of the concept, and taps into some sly Lennonesque humor on the simmering rock/blues ballad “Who The Hell is Peter Brown?” – a reference to a line in the classic “The Ballad of John & Yoko.” But there’s more to Rebecca’s great work than the obvious Lennon references.
“Fool’s Heaven” is a vocal harmony driven jangling blues reflection on life’s endless ups and downs. Then there’s the confident whimsy of finally reaching her full potential on “Walking on Water,” a spirited, progressive rock ode to the importance of communication and being in the present moment (“Here”) and a rollicking countrified ditty celebrating “Those Happy Days” that includes a subtle reference to the theme of “Watching the Wheels.”
The Lennon connection will pique everyone’s curiosity, for sure, but even without that, Blasband is a colorful, dynamic artist that demands some attentive listening. Her resume is delightfully scattered creatively, but let’s “imagine” that this is just the start of many more great albums to come.