Mike Liddy shares his enthusiasm for a new CD by Veronica Towers.
[New City magazine – 2010]
In the final stanza of his poem, Among School Children, the Irish poet, Yeats offers a magical insight into the possibility and mystery of unity. He asks, in the final lines:
‘O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?’
Listening to the songs of Veronica Towers, for me, has always been an experience of the reality of this mystery of unity. The music, the lyrics, the voice, the person, are all distinct but also united in total accord expressing an essence which is not many but one. Those familiar with Veronica’s work will find everything and more here and perhaps a maturity of expression which just keeps getting better. Those who will hear Veronica for the first time on this album will wonder at what they have been missing.
Whilst the album contains what feel to be intensely personal lyrical moments, ‘Lately, I’ve been wondering just how the healing knew…’, ‘Thought I gave you everything I had…,’ Veronica possesses that rare gift of being able to turn the individual experience into something universal that all of us can somehow share. And indeed hum along to, long after the song has finished. There is an effortless tunefulness to Veronica’s songs here which will delight anyone interested in music, anywhere, any age. There is no doubt, a stripped down, almost minimalist arrangement to some of the album, in the best traditions of female singer songwriters, which allows for the almost impossible fragility of Veronica’s voice to soar.
These are songs of great moment, dealing as they do with the breadth and depth of our human frailties as we experience them and the possibility of their transformation in love. Many of the twelve songs on Rivers of Light contain questions, the questions perhaps that all of us have sought answers to at one time or another. And it is the songs themselves that are the answers which Veronica is offering. These are not the answers of sterile prolixity but answers in a universal language of beauty and harmony. After all, what’s the point of a universal question such as ‘do you believe this is all?’ if there aren’t universal answers?
The songs here ‘work’ together, so that Rivers of Light, like all art, is somehow made more than the simple sum of its parts. It is an album which repays listening to from start to finish. In Seven Last Words, Veronica sings of ‘…the poet, the preacher, the painter, the fool….’ being ‘too close for comfort’. Perhaps because it takes this motley collection to challenge us in their own way, to really confront the important things in our, at times mad, absurd lives. I am reminded of the famous words of another poet, John Keats at the end of Ode on a Grecian Urn,
‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’
There is much truth and much beauty to be found and enjoyed in Rivers of Light.