REVIEW BY BILL JANSSEN

Feeling Fifteen Again – DC Rapier

BY BILL JANSSEN
PERFORMING ARTIST, SAXOPHONE WITH ADRIAN BELEW

Floating In a sea of self-made musical endeavors, sailing briskly past the leaking lifeboat of cynical ineptitude, comes DC Rapier with his new album Feeling Fifteen Again.

Born in Kankakee, Illinois, Rapier cut his musical teeth across the USA. Now he’s a playing ex-pat in Taipei, Taiwan. It’s in this atmosphere of global artistic negativism where Rapier has carved out the musical essentials of Western culture: blues, jazz, R & B, American roots music, and seduction through laughter, all in a supporting Eastern environment.

Feeling Fifteen Again radiates Rapier’s essence all the way through. The steaming core of Rapier’s solid song writing is amplified by a team of rakish brutes in a hissing horn section, at once angry with the world, now full of lusty humor. Rapier is also sustained by bawdy backing vocals from a gang of slick women that could shred the wallpaper off Aunt Dorothy’s parlor walls.

Not to mention the sinister and vaguely threatening rhythm section who probably wear zoot suits, carry prison shivs and would gladly cut you in some insane monkey knife fight. Want proof? Check out Bull Toad Blues.

Still, it’s Rapier’s voice that anchors this ship and is best heard on Small Town Boys, Older Than I Look, Baby Come Back, and Best Thing in My Life.

Trained at Springfield College by Carlton Eldridge (Eldridge 1911-1998, gets credit in the notes), Rapier’s hybrid of classical, R&B, jazz and rock interpretations does not fail to impress.

But one thing that can’t be taught is Rapier’s instant intuition as his potent baritone negotiates a blues a la Fischer-Dieskau on Best Laid Plans.

The sonic textures on the disc are sometimes muddled, and the energy flags just a tad in parts, however, Rapier’s crisp writing and bluesy determination shows through completely (“dusk had darkened to a gloomy twilight”).

Balanced by decades of experience and refined in some inscrutable fashion by Taiwan’s tea and artistry (“always looking for escape, since she left me in the Wildwood”), Rapier sails on.

Lest you think that a few technical issues might sink this disc, do not be misled. This effort is by no means dead in the water. Rapier’s keen ear, despite a sincere attempt at slicker production values, delivers a solid 13 tunes. First impressions, as well as subsequent listenings, reveal performances that wash across you like a euphonious tsunami.

But aren’t we all caught between the devil and the deep blue sea? With Feeling Fifteen Again, is Rapier the second coming, redefined by the understanding of the East and enlightened by the knowledge of the West? No. No mumbo jumbo here. What we get is DC Rapier’s solid, jazzy, R&B, sung with soul that makes you feel alive.