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Head Above Water’ Kept Afloat By Student Passion

John Tierney | Monday, February 8, 2010

The Global Water Initiative and student government released the album “Head Above Water” last week to benefit the non-profit group The Water Project.
The traditional sounds of Thursday night Acoustic Cafe are evident in this CD featuring student artists. Most of the tracks are soothingly chill and are music to calm stressed nerves.
The album invites the listener to remove clutter from their lives, with track titles such as “Free and Clear,” “One Too Many Things,” and “Find Some Peace.”
Some of the songs, including senior Tristan Hunt’s “Zihuatanejo,” directly relate to the album’s charity mission. The song balances a respect for the escape that the beach town of Zihuatanejo provides with an understanding of the area’s poverty. The song question, “would you drink from this water?” relates to the mission of The Global Water Initiative, and will remind listeners that approximately one billion people lack access to potable water.
The city that lends its name to the song is the third most visited beach town in Mexico. Hunt’s chill, acoustic, style evokes memories of warmth, relaxation and a summer by the sea.
Daniel Tostado’s “I Have a Pet Oyster and His Name is the World” is a seemingly upbeat song that also has a deeper message. Tostado brings a light tone to the music and the listener can hear that he had fun recording the track. Lines such as “now he likes sports and beer, and I like sports, but I don’t like beer,” are defined by their silliness. But these silly lines are balanced by more metaphysical concerns that “things aren’t good with me and my oyster.” Tostado sings the song in an upbeat and lighthearted way that emphasizes its silliness, but he changes his style often enough for the listener to notice the song’s metaphors.
Followers of student government might be eager to listen to study body vice president Cynthia Weber’s “If You Go.” Weber, a junior, told The Observer that she decided not to run for student body president this year in part to devote more time to music.
“If You Go” is one of the more interesting songs on the album. What Weber might lack in experience, she makes up for with passion. The track opens with a compelling half-minute guitar solo before Weber begins to sing. Her voice reveals her relative lack of experience compared to some of the other artists on the album, but she sings with honesty and passion.
Katharine Feeley’s “Walk Alone” was one of the more professional sounding tracks on the album. Feeley, a senior with experience performing in musicals with PEMCo, sings with a fuller voice than found elsewhere on the album. Her voice reflects the emotional maturity of the song’s lyrics, which tell the story of a woman who was widowed after 51 years of marriage.
Mike Matheson’s “Take Me Down” is a fitting song for the Valentine’s Day season. The song is a man’s plea to his girlfriend to “take me down to the pier by the shore…” Matheson’s light and vibrant voice fits the excitement of the stage of love during which the lovers want to spend as much time together as possible.
The album is generally a relaxing listen, perfect for either studying or decompressing. It’s worth the small price of $6 at the LaFortune box office and online at the ND Shop Web site. Proceeds from the CD benefit The Global Water Initiative and The Water Project, which support development of clean water resources for the nearly one billion people who currently do not have access to potable water.