Allene Rohrer, Synergism

Allene Rohrer, Synergism

Synergism, by Allene Rohrer, is a folkish record that rocks. It’s got more energy than you’d normally expect from a folk record, and the drummer rocks, which is something you don’t hear that often in folk music. But the songs are still basically folk songs, and there are enough acoustic guitars on this record to fuel a large campfire. (Can someone organize that? Anyone have Bob Geldof’s number?) Unfortunately, the band is one of the best things here — the lyrics are uninteresting, and Rohrer’s voice is annoying most of the time. It’s mediocre, and she oversings everything; it might sound better if she didn’t overdo it, but she doesn’t give us a chance to find that out.

“Oaktown,” the first song, is typically annoying. It’s a portrait of her neighborhood from her bedroom window, but she doesn’t make it sound that interesting. The first verse is about two guys getting into a fight, which you’d think would have plenty of dramatic potential, but the lyrics are so generic that there’s no life in them, and the melody doesn’t add anything — it’s as annoying as the lyrics. Her singing makes her sound far too pleased with herself here for such a small accomplishment.

There are a few interesting harmonic things throughout the record, though. “Gold,” in particular, has a few moments where the melody and the guitars use notes outside of the scale, which is kind interesting, and the song as a whole isn’t bad (though still not exactly inspired). The main riff in “Monsters” is in a similar chromatic vein, but the song itself isn’t that great, either (although it’s considerably better than “Oaktown”).

“Monsters,” in fact, is one of the only songs where Rohrer’s oversinging actually works. It’s a big rock song with a big guitar solo, so energetic singing works there. But most of the time she’s overselling it, and when she’s not, she’s underselling it. “Red Angel” is a rock number like “Monsters” and is about some kind of deception, so you’d expect that maybe she’d really sing this one like she’s loud and pissed off. Instead she sings the thing at a moderate level, without any kind of emotion — it’s not even cold, just bland, even when she sings things like “You drive me insane” and “You go straight to hell.” To me, that’s just odd.

Maybe it would sound different live — I’ll admit that a lot of the time, folky types get production that doesn’t really suit them. But this time I’m not so sure there’s much there to begin with.

(self-released; Allene Rohrer --

Review by . Review posted Thursday, September 27th, 2007. Filed under Reviews.

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