John Southworth & Andrew Downing – Easterween

John Southworth has outdone himself again, and this time with the help of Andrew Downing. This extremely ambition project tells a complicated story. At this point I will just quote a long passage from explaining this masterpiece: ”

A dozen songs charting a hallucinatory journey and metaphysical rite of passage sown into a one-of-a-kind album and show with songs by John Southworth and arrangements by Andrew Downing in the spirit of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. A 21st century metaphysical fertility tale set to 19th century surreal street-cabaret songs accompanied by a 7-piece orchestra of brass, wood and strings. Imagine pop music arranged by Igor Stravinsky, with lyrics dictated by David Lynch on a vision quest.

Part Edgar Allan Poe and part Rite of Spring, Easterween tells the magic-realist tale of a mythological egg-hunt set during an eternal winter. Robert Kirk is a 500-year-old magician who contacts the Faerie kingdom to help him end the icy spell. The Faerie King and Queen choose a 16-year-old Amish boy named Johann and a 16-year-old Hasidic girl named Sylvia who, despite their different backgrounds, come together in a powerful union. Their essential task is to find three eggs of the utmost cosmic importance, hidden throughout Pennsylvania. While looking for the eggs they are hunted by sinister Noombs and the heads of GMO companies. If the teens find the eggs the corporate monopoly on the seed kingdom will be over. But in order for spring to happen Johann and Sylvia also have to return the eggs to Pennsylvania’s Mountain of the Egg – all by the eve of Easterween!”

The record has not at all suffered under the massive amount of pressure and elaboration it has placed itself under. It emerges as a cohesive and inspiring tale no less interesting lyrically than compositionally. I can’t recommend it more. You will have to buy the record to enjoy it in all of it’s fullness but I can assure you that it is worth your last pennies. John Southworth is without a doubt a Canadian treasure. Perhaps this project will finally project him into the canon of modern music write large where he rightfully belongs.

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