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Ken Sharp - Miniatures (A Music Review)

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

Ken Sharp – Miniatures (Jet Fighter)

Miniatures couldn’t be a more apt title for the latest album by singer/songwriter power pop artist Ken Sharp. None of these 32 (count ‘em, 32!) songs clocks in at even two minutes long, and the shortest is the album-closing title track which clocks in at 37 seconds.

However, just because these songs are short does not mean they are just fragments or snippets. They all feel like complete little – as once referred to Brian Wilson’s songs – “pocket symphonies.” There is a history of short, catchy songs, particularly in the 60s, which this album mostly celebrates musically. It also works well for these hectic, attention-deficit times.

Worst case scenario, if you don’t like one of the songs (and there are very few songs on the album likely to spur that kind of reaction), you don’t have to wait long for another aching melody or catchy hook to come along. Nothing will certainly overstay its welcome – although many of them may have you craving for more of the song.

This new album is a strictly DIY affair in a way that has become all too necessary in a post pandemic world. Sharp recorded this new batch of songs at home, doing all the vocals (lead and backing) and playing almost all the instruments, other than a few brief cameos by Sharp’s regular collaborator guitarist Fernando Perdomo and violinist Kaitlin Wolfberg.

That’s a pretty impressive achievement as far as a mostly one-man band goes, considering this album has a lo-fi wall of sound including such instruments as electric and acoustic guitar, piano, harpsichord (love the harpsichord!), EBow, organ, mellotron, Moog, celeste, vibes, glockenspiel and bell trees. Sharp grew up worshipping Stevie Wonder, and this aesthetic of handling nearly all the instrumentation is reminiscent of Wonder’s work ethic on many of his most classic albums.

While he is best known as a power pop artist, Sharp refers this new collection as an exploration of “baroque” pop – think such 60s groups as The Left Banke, Simon & Garfunkel, The Zombies and The Neon Philharmonic.

For such a low-tech affair, Miniatures definitely has a very big sound.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: April 22, 2021.

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