Music note: Meredith Fierke’s sterling debut

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Singer-songsmith Meredith Fierke, an extraordinary talent, is, to the benefit of discerning music lovers, making her presence known. She emerged on her home ground of Northfield, Minnesota, solidifying a following with appearances at area nightclubs and winning such honors as “Best Female Musician” from Northfield Entertainment Guide and being listed as a Top Ten Minnesota Artist by BroadJam.com. Things stepped up a notch in early August with the release of her album The Procession, launched with a special gig at Northfield’s Grand Theater. While maintaining her core following, Fierke has broadened her audience, performing in Minneapolis and St. Paul at such venues as the Acadia Café, the Varsity Theater, the Loring Pasta Bar, the Uptown Bar, and Station 4. For good measure, she followed the release of The Procession with a guest appearance on MTN’s Spectator.

The Procession, to be sure, is a sterling debut, showcasing a splendid artist whose calling card is intriguing lyrics set to freshly inventive melodies and delivered with passion. Take “Train’s Song,” which also shows up on the Pachyderm compilation So Large We Ran Out Of Room. Fierke, a fine poet who knows how not to overplay her hand, leans on lyrical economy and a deftly threaded vocal. All the better to haunt the listener as she sings, “1, 2, 3 you’re calling on me/ you’re calling me out again/ I’m pretty sure I heard it before/ but I’ll hear you out again/ Wait with me/ we’ll wait for the train/ It’s coming on through again/ My head hangs low/ but I’ll follow/ I’ll follow you down again.” She brings you into a melancholy feeling and holds you there, keeping things simple to good effect. She can rock, too—as with the sardonic gem “Make You Real.” To an insistent backbeat, she fairly seduces. “Married to the bells you are/ married to all that’s gone ahead/ But you’re just gunning away/ you’re gunning away/ Everything I know/ you’re gunning away/ you’re gunning away/ Everything I know/ I’ll wind you back to a happy tune/ and I’ll find you back and then/ I’ll turn to a cave/ an empty room/ and I’ll find you have and then/ I’ll make you real/ I’ll make you real again.”

Put away any thoughts of a gal with a guitar being some lofty, fragile troubadour. Meredith Fierke shoots straight from the hip and will hit you where it means the most. The last time someone this strong came along, Red House Records had signed the now iconic Lucy Kaplansky. Let The Procession get the airplay it richly deserves and see if history doesn’t repeat itself.

Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.

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