Perhaps the coolest "spin-off" to come from Valente's latest project are two companion recordings by mythpunky singer/songwriter S.J. Tucker -- 2006's For the Girl in the Garden and 2007's Solace and Sorrow, which intersperse Tucker's inspired readings of passages from each text with songs based on characters and incidents in each book.
S.J. Tucker is well-known across the country as a dynamic and versatile performer and musician. But she outdoes even her own outstanding track record in these two albums. While For the Girl in the Garden is evenly balanced between songs and readings, Solace and Sorrow is more weighted towards music, with Tucker electing to read from parts of the book that contain singing, or to read from those with an identifiable rhythm (such as the spoken track "The Gaselli"). Solace & Sorrow includes "Kashkash," a nursery rhyme for young djinn, a Manticore's lullaby, an off-beat, squeaky war song for a "Kingdom of Mice," and the lively, infectious "Firebird's Child," which also appears on Tucker's other 2007 offering, Blessings. But for me, the two stand-out pieces are the country noir-inspired "City of Marrow" (think Neko Case meets Aarne-Thompson), about a desolate, wind-swept merchant city and the melancholy, anxious "Sorrow's Song".
Any listener with an interest in folk music, fairy tales and excellent acting should purchase Solace & Sorrow. Given the beauty that Tucker and Valente have created together, I can only hope that they collaborate on more projects soon.
Green Man Review