w/ special guest Tobias the Owl
When Inara George was five years old, she attended the wake of her father, musician Lowell George, the beating heart of the band Little Feat. Strangely enough, it was also her birthday. Hazy memories include a mountain of presents that engulfed the family grand piano, a piñata filled with treasures but somehow, she got stuck with the yucky sesame candy, and most of all, a heavy sense of the day that couldn't yet be articulated by her child mind.
As anyone who has lost a parent or a close loved one knows, the grief and the gratitude for a life that touched yours spreads out for years. Creates rivers of emotions running through families that must be navigated, side-stepped, sometimes drained. On Dearest Everybody, her latest solo album since 2009's Accidental Experimental, Inara (The Bird and the Bee, and the Living Sisters) mines that initial loss and others that friends and family have suffered, to find the sorrow, and sometimes the joy blooming in the rockiest of places.
Sometimes the line between joy and sorrow is hard to parse, as she sings on the opening song, «Young Adult,» a tender, uplifting homage to the messy thrill of growing up. In «Release Me,» Inara sings from her mother's perspective regarding the loss of Lowell. A few of the songs, including «Tusker 4,» «Slow Dance» and «Take Me to Paris» stem from Inara's annual tradition of writing a song for a dear friend's baby who was lost in childbirth. The sweetly playful «All for All» was written for her producer Mike Andrews who told her of a funny misunderstanding between him and his elderly father in his last few days.
About three years ago, Inara set out to record the album on her own — between raising her three children and various projects but eventually she reached out to Andrews, her collaborator on all her solo albums, including breakthrough All Rise from 2005. The two recorded whenever their schedules yielded, and occasionally called in friends to play.
The hallmarks that are present in Inara's other projects, The Bird and the Bee (her collaboration with Grammy winning producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin) and the Living Sisters (with singers Alex Lilly, Eleni Mandell and Becky Stark), are present here: soaring melodies, airy vocals that swing high and low, exquisite touches of keys and strings that never overwhelm, but the finished result is fully Inara. Dearest Everybody is her story, in music and in life — of taking the losses that formed her and strengthened her, and shining them out to the rest of the world.