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The Story


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Folk/rock, rock with jazz, contemporary folk, and protest influences

Status:

Band is no longer recording as a group, but both members, Jonatha Brooke and Jennifer Kimball, are recording as solo artists. There was also an album recorded under the name Jonatha Brooke and The Story (without Jennifer Kimball); see Jonatha Brooke's entry for info on that disc.

See also:

Jonatha Brooke's Official Homepage

Jennifer Kimball's Official Homepage

The Ectophiles' Guide entries for Jonatha Brooke, and Jennifer Kimball's solo work

Comparisons:

Their harmonies and music are way more subtle and interesting than the Indigo Girls (who I also love).... I think they show definite shades of Joni Mitchell especially in their first album. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

Indigo Girls. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Covers/own material:

All original material, although the lyrics to one song are taken from a poem by e.e. cummings.

General comments:

This group began recording as "Jonatha and Jennifer" at Amherst College, in Amherst, MA. A demo tape (now out of print) was released under this name, but all official releases are by The Story. Jennifer Kimball left the band before the release of the third cd under Jonatha Brooke and The Story, Plumb.

Jennifer and Jonatha (who does all the writing and guitar-playing) are two women, who embody all the pretention, political correctness, disdain and glory of the artsy alternative class (right down to the black buckle boots) that frequent hip coffee bars and might well have initiated an enlightened twist on grunge style. Yet, for all that, they are endearing and folksy and musing and lyrical. The first time I saw them, just a single acoustic guitar graced twisted, perfectly executed harmonic gymnastics...an updated Indigo Girls with nary a straightforward chord of any kind. The guitar and vocals reminded me distinctly of Joni Mitchell--this is undoubtedly a style a mode a sound that took numbers of years to evolve (actually I saw this written in a blurb they had at the show). The 2 albums they did together, are equally as good, even though they could be said to suffer from the same fate as many other "new" (as opposed to Pete Seger, say) folk artists (Patty Larkin, Shawn Colvin) whose live performances are absolutely riveting but whose recordings bury the haunting starkness in layers of bass, drums, and backing vocals. Don't get me wrong, the depth is certainly there, but just an acoustic 6-string and some singing is all these two women really need.
     The Story perform flawless number after flawless number, their voices soaring around each other over under between, using silence as well as sound, and adjusting dynamically as well as I have ever seen it done. The guitar playing, as I said, was quirky...lots of Michael Hedges chords, unfamiliar fingerings. Technically, they were outstanding in every category. Yes, as my brother pointed out, they were pretentious, singing about naked princesses on aquatic islands, and the injustice in South Africa when a car accident involving a black man and a white man results in the black man being refused at hospitals and dying consequently. But there was also an honesty, a baring, a stripping away, a fantastical journeyesque motif, and at bottom, a fundamental self-mockery and flippant ridicule often reminiscent of Seinfeld. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

Jennifer & Jonatha, later known as The Story, were my favorite act in the early '90s. I used to go see them every few months, back before I became a live music addict, and only used to see live music every few months :) They got a band with some superb musicians, and that was cool, but it was mainly the harmonies of the two of the singing that kept drawing me in for more shows. They released two albums together. Elektra picked them up, re-released their earlier Green Linnet Records album, and started promoting them heavily, doing some real tour support and all. Then Jennifer Kimball left, and Jonatha kept the band and the name. Elektra dropped them. Then Plumb was recorded under the name Jonatha Brooke and The Story.
     To me, Plumb will always sound like "Jonatha without Jennifer". I think it is a good album, actually, and I think the musicians in The Story are still superb, but I just can't get past that and enjoy it. I would recommend you get either of the first two albums by The Story: Grace in Gravity, and Angel in the House. Jennifer & Jonatha, along with Alain Mallet, Ben Wittman, and Duke Levine. What a combination! (cos@wbrs.org)

I practically fell off my chair the first time I heard Jonatha Brooke and Jennifer Kimball sing in harmony together. (sagetodd@postoffice.ptd.net)

Comments about live performance:

Their stage presence was stunning, both due to physical appearance and grace (not a coincidence) and in their ease of delivery and outgoing banter and interplay. A pleasure to behold. They like food, they like eating, they hold disdain for supermodels (although they look pretty good themselves), they dance and move with only the least pretention of inhibition. (circa 1992, mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

Recommended first album:

Grace in Gravity, though Angel in the House is perhaps less oblique.

Recordings:


Grace in Gravity

Release info:

1991--Green Linnet Records; re-released Elektra USA--9 61321-2

Availability:

Was widely available--now a little harder to find

Ecto priority:

High to very high

Group members:

Jonatha Brooke--vocals, acoustic guitar, piano
Jennifer Kimball--vocals
Duke Levine--electric guitar, slide guitar, lap guitar
Alain Mallet--keyboards, sequencer programming
Mike Rivard--electric and acoustic bass
Ben Wittman--drums, hand percussion, drum machine programming

Backing Musicians:

Anders Bostrom--alto flute
Lionel Girardeau--electric bass
Adam Kolker--soprano saxophone
Mikael Ringquist--congas

Produced by:

Ben Wittman

Comments:

While I didn't like this album quite as much as Angel in the House, it's still quite lovely. Songs with amazing lyrics that tell a story have always been what I love most about music. (sagetodd@postoffice.ptd.net)

Oh, but I beg to differ. In my opinion Grace In Gravity is *much* better than Angel In The House. The title song still destroys me every time I hear it, even after all these years. I was never able to listen to Plumb all the way through, and I haven't been motivated to pick up Jonatha Brooke's 10 Cent Wings yet. Grace In Gravity, blows everything else either Jonatha or Jennifer have done since completely out of the water. (meth@smoe.org)

Grace In Gravity is an absolutely amazing album, but it will likely take you multiple listenings to fully appreciate...it's worth it. There are some dazzlingly brilliant songs on here, including "Circus", "Love is Thicker Than Forget", "Our faces, my heart, brief as photos", etc. Every song is rich and subtle. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

I know what people mean about Jonatha and Jennifer's voices sounding so alike and indistinguishable. Still, the blend is beautiful, if a bit too sweet at times. A pretty good album overall, with "Always" and "The Alarm Is On Love", and they would probably stand out more if the album weren't so monochromatic in mood and tempo. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Angel in the House

Release info:

1993--Elektra--61471-2

Availability:

Widely available

Ecto priority:

High to medium

Group members:

Jonatha Brooke--vocals, acoustic guitar
Jennifer Kimball--vocals
Alain Mallet--keyboards
Ben Wittman--percussion
Mike Rivard--bass
Duke Levine--electric guitar, acoustic guitar fills

Backing musicians:

Robert Thomas, Jr.--clay pot, hand drums
Alex Alvear--bass, also music, lyrics, vocals, background vocals on final track
Claudio Ragazzi--cuatro
Mike Ringquist--congas
Gustavo Ernsto Diaz Moreno--timbales, guiro
Mimi Rabson--violin
Matt Glaser--violin
Anders Bostrom--flute, recorders, pennywhistle
Cabelo--berimbau
Eric Friedlander--cello
Don Mokrynski--clarinet
Adam Kolker--soprano sax, baritone sax, tenor sax
Donny McCastin--tenor sax
Rick Hammer--trumpet, flugelhorn
Gary Valente--trombone
Lionel Girardeau--bass, bass slide
Mindy Jostyn--fiddle

Produced by:

Alain Mallet and Ben Wittman; Tommy LiPuma, Executive Producer

Comments:

I agree with all the raves that have already appeared on the ecto list! Except for one or two songs, I really like this album. I have to admit to being surprised, because I disliked nearly every song on their first album. I never said much because I know that there are quite a few The Story fans on Ecto, plus I was told that I'd feel differently if I saw them in concert. I haven't had that pleasure, so I only listened to the first album a couple of times, played one song on my show, then put it up on the shelf. It was an album that I wasn't willing to give a lot of listens to in order to let it grow on me. I have over 500 female-vocal CDs and there are too many that I *already* like and want to listen to. My reaction to this album is the total opposite, in that I liked it right away. (vickie@enteract.com)

This is an incredible album! I just listened to it straight through for the first time, and fell in love. It's so beautiful, with the pretty harmonies and excellent, acoustic music. I must, however, say I can understand why Jennifer Kimball left the group. You can barely tell she's there. Jennifer has a beautiful voice, though, and I anticipate her own solo work with much gleeful happiness. ;> (Nyxnight@aol.com)

They have the potential to be one of my favorites, but something seems to be missing. (colford@noble.net)


Plumb See entry for Jonatha Brooke and The Story for information and comments on Plumb

Further info:

Both Jonatha and Jennifer have provided backing vocals for several folk artists, both as The Story and as solo artists.

There is no fan club for The Story, but Jonatha Brooke has a mailing list called Dog Dreams, hosted on smoe.org. However, this list is apparently soon-to-be-defunct.


Thanks to Kay Cleaves for her work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2005-12-11 17:03:59.
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