Sy Arden
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Sy Arden

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | INDIE

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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This band has not uploaded any videos

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"Live Review: Dark Water Rising, Sy Arden"

Dark Water Rising, Sy Arden
The Evening Muse
Aug. 19, 2011

The Deal: Pembroke, N.C., based Dark Water Rising brings soulful style to the Evening Muse, as Charlotte's Sy Arden opens the night with different brand of guitar folk/rock.

The Good: The night got started with a compact, intense set by Arden. Performing mostly on electric guitar, Arden's style of folk rock is emotional, powerful and driven by her sometimes-sweet, sometimes-sultry vocals.
Performing mostly original material, Arden also found time to drop in a cover of The Who's "Baba O'Riley" and The Beatles' "Let It Be," which she dedicated to her father. Her original songs, such as "Weapon Forever," use a clean electric guitar presentation that offers a bit of an edge from the standard acoustic folk. She wrapped up her set with a slapping, plucking acoustic tune showing her musicianship is as strong as her songwriting.


Next up was Dark Water Rising, a group highlighted by its Native American roots, redefines the borders of genres with its musical style that incorporates rock, blues, soul, r&b and folk. Led by the strong vocals of Charly Lowry, Ciera Dial and Brittany Jacobs, the band covered Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" amidst a set that focused on their original music. They even brought in hints of '60s style Motown to some of their songs.
Lowry knew when to hit the soulful notes conveying plenty of emotion, while Jacobs brought more of a pop style, though both belted it out with ease and were clearly the focus, as Dial hit harmonies and brought her own style to the mix.

The Bad: I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting a more obvious infusion of Native American style either through lyrical content, percussion or other musicianship. The band is obviously proud of its heritage and I wished more of that had come out through the music.

The Verdict: A strong night for vocals that showed a lot of soul through different styles of music. - Creative Loafing


"Coming out of the Dark Ages"

shall@salisburypost.com

“Preposition,” Sy Arden’s about-to-be-released EP, is brand new, but its songs archive an earlier version of the musician.

Listening, one would think she’s immersed in depression and doom which she is battling with electric guitar and attitude. But she has turned a corner and put a lot of that behind her. So the recording is a record of where she was, not where she’s at.

But don’t call her songs “therapy.” She doesn’t like that.

“I’m not emotionally smart, but I’m highly reactive,” Arden says. “Music is a healthy vehicle for emotional....whatever. But sometimes it’s just fun.”

The real reason the EP didn’t come out until after she emerged from what she calls “the dark ages” is that it just plain took a long time, “a nine-month process for four damn songs.” (It’s actually five songs counting the untitled bonus track.)

“The cellist defected, my purse was stolen, my amp blew, I ran out of money. But getting four or five songs recorded is huge for me. Ask anybody who knows me. I denied it for so long, so it feels huge. To think I’m even worthy of doing that.”

So, who’s saying she’s not worthy? She seems plagued by self-doubt, and unwilling to accept compliments, even though there are plenty of people impressed with her guitar playing, her voice, and her songs.

She muses that as a child and teen growing up in China Grove, N.C., whenever somebody would point out something she did well, she would stop doing it.


And now, when somebody compliments her voice, she wishes they would pay attention to her guitar playing. But it’s hard for people to ignore that voice, since it’s pretty amazing.

“I don’t want to be a singer- songwriter, with too much focus on the voice. I don’t like the female siren thing. I’m a decent guitar player.”

The recording bears this out. Her voice never dominates; it contributes to the portrait each song paints. The aggressive guitar sometimes seems to want to smother the lyrics, as if afraid they may reveal too much.

“I’m definitely heavy-handed. I have builder’s hands.” Arden holds up her hands, as adept at handling hammer and table saw as they are facile with guitar.

She also credits her finger- picking style to her father, also heavy-handed. He was a “closet musician” and truck driver who didn’t consider music an option for a provider, since “music doesn’t make money.”

Arden’s parents divorced, and she became “preoccupied with overachieving” in visual art, cello and athletics. Then she disappointed her teachers by pulling back when she would be on the verge of excelling. She got a failing grade in band in middle school (she played percussion) so instead performed with a rock band called “Stoma,” comprised of 14-year-olds.

Arden condenses the next few years, in third person, as follows:

“Left high school early for art school, then took off across country in a 1970 VW bug by herself for the hell of it. Someone gave her a guitar and she started writing while traveling. She landed in San Diego, Calif. and built guitars for Taylor Guitars. Upon returning she bounced around, back and forth, between the east and west coasts until she got a good, upstanding job at a dysfunctional cultural organization.”

What seemed to be a wonderful opportunity working for a museum turned into a nightmare when problems developed with a superior there, and she was plunged deeper into depression. She also says she was misdiagnosed as bi-polar, and even spent some time in a mental health center, until she finally figured out that it was hypoglycemia driving her emotional roller coaster. Arden has taken control of her health and her life.

She was invited to join an artist colony near Lexington to explore her sculpture talent. It seemed like a good move since she had no job. The VW was leaking everything: air, water, oil, so she gave it to charity, and prepared to occup her hands with clay rather than a guitar.

But then she got a great response at a gig she played in Charlotte. Then other performing opportunities seemed to fall in her lap. Music was calling her back. Sculpture suddenly seemed like a distraction.

But in anticipation of her move, she had given up not only her car, but her apartment as well. She found herself couch-hopping for the next nine months. She was homeless, yet trying to record a CD.

She summarizes the songs on “Preposition” as follows: “Weapon Forever”— “being doomed from the start, embarking on a dream deferred; “Push On” — “description of what depression is like and at the same time taking ownership of that state;” “Dig a Hole” — (Instead of describing it, Arden gets distracted by the fact that she can’t remember when she wrote it. “Maybe two years ago?”); “Levees” — “roles we play and power over sexual scenarios.” (She says she wrote the lyrics to this one years ago, but just wrote the music this year.)

And for the fifth, untitled track, she says, “it’s me stating I’ve spent too much time... me saying I’m not going to not try to do this.”

Arden knows her style is raw and unorthodox, and that she might not appeal to everyone. She chooses to accompany herself with electric guitar rather than acoustic, and wonders if some find that distracting. She expresses disdain for the formulas in popular music on the radio: “You can’t own it as yours if you do that, just sing about safe things.”

She says a friend told her, “I wish you could see the audience, the expressions on their faces, like you grabbed their entrails and held them out.”

Arden seems puzzled by the reaction of those who enthusiastically praise her performance and seem drawn to her.

“I want to ask, ‘What did I just do to you? What made you act this way?’”

She’s looking for the connections, prepositions that will allow all the nouns to connect with the actions in her life.

• • •

Sy Arden releases her EP this Saturday 10:30 p.m. at The Evening Muse in Charlotte. Wear the ugliest Christmas sweater and win an EP.

For more information visit www.syarden.com.
- Salisbury Post


Discography

"Preposition" EP
"Push On" radio play on 106.5 FM
Currently working on full-length album development/funding

Photos

Bio

Sy Arden is a solo, electric guitar-playing songwriter who dapples some songs with raucus distortion, others with vulnerable inflection. She conceptually manages duality through music- giving voice to both dark and light- while connecting to increasingly diverse audiences. Many songs are anthemic, many are specific and individualized, and some are humorous.

During a live performance, you might hear a gently plucked electric with ringing harmonics followed by a stomp on the distortion box. Or you might hear a chicken-picked acoustic coming to life, southern style, in "The Oh", a song celebrating female sexuality. And this is what every single fan says is the trademark, the enduring impression, that makes Sy Arden something you not only want to hear, but love to watch. The ability to get back into the moment the song was written taps into a universal truth about emotion: we all have felt some or all of this; and its refreshing to see someone put that out so fearlessly; like its no crazier than a morning cup of coffee.

So the jury is still out- she sounds like this, this, and that with some of this mixed in- its hard to nail down; perhaps that has to do with the fact she mainly plays solo, or maybe because she is uncompromising in her approach, "whatever the muse sends, let it be written". You will hear a coo, a scream, a killer riff, and a hum-drum strum; according to Sy Arden, "they all have a seat at the table". No snobs allowed.