Orriel Smith – The World’s Favorite Cluckoratura Arias
By Dan Lurie
Orriel Smith hasn’t put out a hit record since her 1964 folk masterpiece, A Voice in the Wind.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and in a rash attempt at reviving her career, Smith now offers The World’s Favorite Cluckoratura Arias, an album of classic vocal passages reinterpreted as a chicken would have performed them.
Not since the days of Rusted Root has a singer so convincingly mimicked the vocal inflection of a chicken. Like some freakish cross between Big Bird and Mariah Carey, Smith succeeds in clucking her way through operatic pieces by such notables as Verdi, Donizetti, and Mozart.
The album opener, from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” is so finger-lickin’ good, one wonders if Wolfgang intended it to be performed this way.
The momentum continues to build throughout the album, reaching its highpoint when Smith nimbly executes a duet between a chicken and a cat in Meyerbeer’s “The Shadow Song.”
That Smith is willing to ape two animals in a single aria proves she’s not afraid to take risks, and those risks pay off time and again.
Is Cluckoratura a dangerous career move? Of course. But whether the album hits or misses is not the point. Orriel Smith is pushing music in a direction no one outside the isle of Dr. Moreau would ever dare.
And to that I say cock-a-doodle-doo! – (8.2/10)