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Jeremy Michael Cashman and Jason Fisk: Trapped Within Myself: The Village Library Interviews (Brown Bottle/Homespun) 

In this anybody-can-make-a-record era, it's always refreshing when artists do something different, and do it well. Take Trapped Within Myself: The Village Library Interviews, by local musician Jeremy Michael Cashman and his brother-in-law, Chicago's Jason Fisk. It's a collection of song-poems—the music by Cashman and the words by Fisk—about a made-up character, Walter Sloke.

The speaker meets Sloke at the library and is fascinated. Sloke agrees to share his life story, but the focus is not so much on Sloke himself, but on the very process of using some guy's life as inspiration. "I wanted his life story for my own," the speaker admits in "Song #1."

What makes Trapped Within Myself work as a multimedia project is a careful consideration of this process and the meaning behind it. The whole artifice is transparently created through the music and book itself: "I created you. Your story, your existence is my choice," the speaker tells Sloke in "Song #7," and Cashman includes explanations of the creation of each song and the album as a whole. Fisk's speaker is conducting "field recordings" of Sloke, and so Cashman decided to approach the music similarly, recording his guitars and vocals without rehearsals. Hence, the entire album feels carefully crafted, thoughtful, poetic and absolutely refreshing in its originality.

More by Annie Holub

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