The Fiery Furnaces
With "Rehearsing My Choir," the siblings are joined by their grandmother Olga Sarantos, who adds fantastical stories with her husky vocals. Although this new, nontraditional voice makes the album even less accessible than the Furnaces' earlier work, Sarantos's stories unify "Rehearsing" into a cohesive narrative. The group's music has always had a theatrical feel, and the juxtaposition of Eleanor's rapid-fire soprano and Sarantos's tales of life in Chicago turns their back-and-forth verses into dialogue. The lengthy "Seven Silver Curses" describes a Gypsy potion to cure a husband's infidelity as Sarantos's reminiscences alternate with Eleanor's urgency as the voice of her grandmother's younger self.
But it would be misleading to describe "Rehearsing" as a sequential play, since the songs are not presented in chronological order. Instead, they jump around on a timeline that stretches back to the 1920s, and at least one song, the bouncy "Wayward Granddaughter," tells the story of completely unrelated characters. While "Rehearsing" is unlikely to have wide appeal -- even among Furnaces fans -- it is a fascinating compilation of a grandmother's stories presented as a jumbled assortment of fact and fiction.
-- Catherine P. Lewis