Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Mary Colurso
9/2/11 | Al.com | www.al.com | Live Show Preview
The personal questions are inevitable, and Tim Kasher knows it. Kasher, the frontman of indie-rock band Cursive, chose to call his recent solo albums "The Game of Monogamy" and "Bigamy: More Songs from the Monogamy Sessions." Quite naturally, fans are eager to know if Kasher, who's divorced, drew upon his own life experiences while writing this material. Are the confessional-sounding songs ? with titles such as "No Harmony," "Cold Love" and "I'm Afraid I'm Gonna Die Here" ? about Kasher's former relationship and failed marriage? The answer, of course, is yes and no. Like many passionate songwriters, Kasher cannot help but channel his own thoughts, ideas and feelings into lyrics. But he also applies a substantial dose of imagination. Fact and fiction merge, as they often do in art. That tantalizing push-and-pull ? the line between reality and fantasy ? is what draws Kasher to the works of several writers he admires, including author Philip Roth. Like his literary hero, Kasher prefers to suggest much, spell out little. "I love the shroud of mystery about him," says Kasher, 37, during a phone interview. "Some of what he's writing can't be fiction." But Roth's topics remain deep ? aging, sex, death, politics ? as he filters them through a unique voice and sensibility. With "Monogamy" and "Bigamy," Kasher finds himself musing on subjects that seem equally important, especially to men flirting with age 40. The nature of fidelity. The weight of domestic responsibility. The challenge of maturity. Kasher reveals that some of the seeds for "Bigamy" and "Monogamy" were planted after reading "Rabbit, Run," a 1960 novel by John Updike. The main character, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, is a former high-school basketball star who struggles with the pressures of being a middle-class husband and father in small-town Pennsylvania. "'Rabbit, Run' influenced me fairly profoundly when I read it about 20 years ago," Kasher says. "I think I've been kind of dancing around those ideas for a long time. The songs are closely related to my impressions of that book." He'll sing about such things tonight during a concert at Birmingham's Bottletree. Kasher is no stranger to the nightclub and cafe in Avondale; he's performed there several times with Cursive. "It's one of the best venues in the country," Kasher says. "The people who run it are great. It's an anticipated evening on any given tour." Tonight's concert will be Kasher's first date at Bottletree as a solo artist, fronting a four-piece touring group. He's taking nothing for granted, including a strong turnout from Cursive fans. "Because of this new project, I'm buckling down and rebuilding from the ground up," Kasher says. Tracks from "Bigamy" and "Monogamy" will be the main attraction at his performance, but Kasher also plans to open his set list to the audience, taking requests from the Cursive catalog. "We keep it pretty casual," he says. "We're glad if people feel they can be a part of the show." Throughout his career, Kasher has fielded comments from listeners who seem to regard his songs as music therapy. They approach him after his sets and politely ask for advice, or earnestly mention tunes that helped them to solve personal problems. "People are making real connections to what I'm writing," Kasher says. "That's what's nice about the arts in general. But that I would be thought of as some kind of therapist is absurd. Surely, I'm the one who needs the therapist."
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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