CD review: OKAY... SO...
By Rachel Jagt
Vancouver-based singer/songwriter Bob Kemmis is not only a Libra and a fan of "The Princess Bride"; he is a rare treasure in the ever-deepening sea of "poets with guitars". He is funny, witty, friendly, and he also writes some pretty great songs. "Okay so...", recorded at the Community Auditorium in Thunder Bay, Ontario, is Kemmis' third INDEPENDENT release. For someone as engaging as he is live, this record was a logical next step.
Unlike a lot of live records nowadays, there is a lot of talking on "Okay so...". Kemmis introduces all of his songs and tells us how they came about. As a courtesy, he has separated the dialogue from the actual songs on the track list, so you can skip through it if you're not interested in that kind of thing. Do yourselves a favour, though, and listen to it at least once uninterrupted. Much like Jann Arden, on whose tour he was opening when these songs were recorded, much of the fun of his show is the non-musical part of it.
And then there are the songs. He combines material from his first release, "Kemmisutra", and his second release, "Tomorrow Doesn't Look Good Either", with new material for this record. The audience is involved in his performance from the beginning - they laugh with him and prove that a guy with a guitar and a sense of humour is a powerful force. Favourites like "Harder Than You Know", "Water to the Moon", and the autobiographical "Acquired Taste" sound great live, along with new songs "Forever When I'm Waiting", the hilarious "You'll Still Get Lucky", and "Word of a Breakthrough", Kemmis' tongue-in-cheek attempt at cashing in on the popularity of modern Latin music.
It's hard to put my finger on what exactly makes Bob Kemmis original. Perhaps it's his lyrics: self-effacing, witty, original, and honest, with little bits of comedic genius thrown in: "Well she tiptoed her way into my soul, as gently as a car wraps itself around a pole". Or maybe it's his music: simple, straightforward, well-suited to a solo guitar. Or maybe it's a combination of the two, which allows him to create his own unique atmosphere when he's on stage. But then again, I guess the point of originality is that it defies definition. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy it, as this record proves.