What the Mirror Said
Jocelyn Arem’s debut studio release greets us with all the freshness and promise of a new voice on the scene, but evidently someone who has been honing her craft for years. Arem released her debut demo in 2000, and kept her fans waiting for two more years for What the Mirror Said. Well worth the wait, this album displays Arem’s exquisite musical ability, intellect and literary sensibilities.
The album opens with two of several homages to her folk and literary predecessors with “Kerouac” and “Guthrie’s Lament.” In “Juarez,” Arem once again pays tribute to her folk and literary mothers (Eve Ensler and Holly Near) while educating her listeners and displaying her social and feminist consciousness. “Amaryllis” is another example of Arem’s poetic and metaphoric abilities. The Amaryllis is a flower that, if raised indoors, will bloom every year. The whole song seems to be a metaphor for this flower—the cycle of remaining dormant and being reborn.
“Serenade at Midnight” displays Arem’s ability to bring the listener into different landscapes as she takes us into train cars and taxicabs, evoking the feeling of the quiet, late-night ride home. She again displays her literary sensibility and musical inventiveness in “Love III,” which is music to the text of a poem of the same name by the 15th Century poet, George Herbert. The conclusion, “A Memory of You,” is a beautiful “goodnight” from this promising artist.