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Song Logic Paperback – January 25, 2011
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To write great music criticism, you have to have a sharp ear, a theorizing bent and a poetic tongue. But most of all, you need a sympathetic heart. These essays are written in a mature tone, suffused with a generosity that is absent in much criticism out there. There is no snark, just an honest attempt at trapping the sublime and praising the beautiful. There is little condescension and the essays focus on music that are mostly mainstream (from U2 Radiohead, Elvis).
For the criticism to work, there has to be a tacit agreement by the reader to the central thesis and the central thesis that "the goal of good music is to become pure feeling" rings true to me. These essays are concerned not just with how feeling are generated on a technical level, but how they fit into the scheme of things. There is an intensely personal tone to these essays as Rino traces how his own responses to the music has changed over his own lifetime. Our ears have histories too.
Easy as it is to read these essays, their convivial tone hides an ocean of work, the fruit of years of reflection. Such work is slow baked. And criticism is nothing if it doesn't get down to the minute details. It is here in abundance, the careful dissection of individual bass-lines, guitar riffs, and hi-hat patterns that provide the meat of the argument. They are described with such acuity, that I was compelled, even for songs that I knew well, to stop reading in mid-sentence, and search for the track to play it to myself, before settling back down to read again. I can think of no greater praise for criticism than that.