Vaulting Chicago to the forefront of 21st century architecture, Millennium Park has finally opened it's gates to the public. It's evident the press wasn't exaggerating the price tag. But it's absolutely worth every penny spent. The park is uniquely rich with landscaping, sculpture, and interactivity. Effortlessly fabulous, it's more Chicago that anything that's come along lately. The Cloud Gate, aka 'The Bean' IS the new Daley Plaza Picasso or Art Institute lion statues. 'Meet me at the bean' will creep into our vernacular. Just you watch.
The crowning glory of the new park is the Jay Pritzker Pavillion and the Great Lawn. Accommodating approximately 11,000 people, this venue promises to deliver the best outdoor music experience in Chicago. (A funny side-note- if you look at the aerials of the park, the 'Great Lawn' looks strangely similar to Marge Simpson's hair.)
Feeling like an indoor and outdoor experience at the same time, the sound magnificently blends with the external cityscape noise. At any outdoor venue, you expect some spill from the outside world. But the Lawn acoustics seem to counteract much of the traffic din by wrapping you up in a tightly focused sound system. Do not hesitate to head down for the next concert on the horizon. You won't be disappointed.
And while I'm on a Chicago theme, Chicago singer and songwriter Rachael Yamagata wields her powerfully sultry voice on Happenstance, one of the best CD's on the shelves right now. No this isn't dance music. This is a heartfelt album full of jazz-infused pop. Think Alana Davis and Fiona Apple with a richer Norah Jones-ish musical backdrop.
Rachael's warm and breathy vocals sweetly sing of her trials and tribulations with love, a subject that none of us are unfamiliar with. With writing skills that are beyond, her songs leap out of the speakers like accusations and confessions. Yet her unique vocal presence is like a soothing shoulder to cry on and commiserate with.
'Letter Read' takes the cake as one of the most brilliantly arranged and written tracks of the year. Her vocals are all over the place but it's not over done. The mood of the song changes dramatically, like a relationship and it's hurdles. 'Under My Skin' has one of those hooks that will echo around in your head for a long time after your first listening.
It's a timeless album, almost seeming as if you've heard it before. But the originality shines in lyrical hooks and poetic verses. Be sure to check this one out with your feet up and a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning.
With you in 4/4,