Lisa Bastoni “On The Water”

Sweet Ondine Music, 2024

Uplifting, thought-provoking and optimistic.

Bastoni is a talented musician, artist, and teacher.  Since the release of her last full-length album ‘How we want to live’ in 2019 she has been concentrating on her art and also teaching art part-time in elementary school. The musician in her has come recently to the fore. ‘On the Water’ is again produced by long-term collaborator Sean Staples and was recorded live in three days with contributions from several local musicians. The result is a thought-provoking, joyful, but sometimes melancholic album that comes from the heart.

It opens very brightly with ‘The Right Side of the River’, a contented song that demonstrates her journey since Covid.  ‘It’s so easy to get lost in the undertow when you fall down deeper than you meant to go’. The sentiment sets the tone of the album beautifully. Tracks that have been written and influenced by lockdown as a single mother of two children and dealing with everything that it brought.

‘Cheap Wine’ is reflective and reminiscent of Mary Gauthier. It finds her sitting on her waterfront view watching the starlight dancing on the waves but still ‘drinking that cheap wine after all this time makes you wonder if I’ve done something wrong. Always for the love never for the money making it up as we go along’. The gentle pedal guitar by Rich Hinman positively adds to the atmosphere of not only this track but throughout the album. ‘Hometown’ is a thoughtful piece that finds her thinking about her old house and her friend that she grew up with and wondering what has happened to them as she has never been back. More reflection and emotion.

‘Honeymoon in Disneyland’ details her parents’ marriage. ‘They were babies having a baby ‘.  It explores her mother’s early feelings on the drive to their destination. Has she made the correct decision? Quicker-paced. ‘Let’s Look at Houses’ also draws on her parent’s life they were probably cash-strapped but fought to keep the marriage alive. Things they enjoyed included ‘getting it on all morning and looking at houses they couldn’t afford’.. It contains the wonderful line ‘ If we sent our bills to Jesus, would he pay the rent?’

‘On the Water’ is a collection that is very easy to enjoy. The songs are beautifully played and consistently interesting, they are reflective and melancholic in places, but the overall feeling is one of expectation and contentment. Bastoni comments “From salt water to sink water, from a cup of tea to the entire ocean, ‘On the Water’, is a cycle of twelve vivid songs exploring observations of daily life and memories washed ashore’. It is certainly worth dipping your toe in intially and then jumping in for an extended refreshing swim.


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