Tony Wakeford - Not All Of Me Will Die [The Eastern Front - 2009]I feel mildly ashamed for putting this album so far down on my list of Things To Do. Most everything Tony Wakeford touches turns to gold—sometimes platinum—and Not All of Me merges an ambitious concept with some heartfelt and deeply absorbing music. It’s not the sort of thing I’m going to be playing while I’m paying the month’s bills, but that’s only because it’s powerful enough that it demands complete attention.
The album takes its title from a poem written by one Zuzanna Ginczanka, the inspiration for the record, whose poetry is used throughout for both lyrical content and atmosphere. A daughter of Russian Jewish parents who emigrated to Poland in the wake of the Russian Revolution, she wrote excellent poetry but was twice denounced as a Jew after the Nazis invaded, and was executed in 1944. Her work was all but forgotten for decades, and only recently translated into English.
The opening 21-minute cut interleaves several passages from two of her poems (quoted in the liner notes) into a drifting, pulsating, mesmerizing threnody. It verges on becoming repetitive towards the end—the first half or so is far more interesting—but the sheer force of the whole thing redeems it. The other, shorter tracks that follow rotate through various moods and textures, setting more of Ginczanka’s lyrics to music with excellent results. Really good music, too: not just a back-bed of instruments, but with actual songwriting and composition in effect. And one of the best instruments of the bunch is Tony Wakeford himself.
The only real drawback is a little too much re-use of the various poems’ verses—it’s clearly meant as a mantra, but I wondered if those lines might have had more impact if they were used sparsely. Still, that’s a minor complaint; the record as a whole is more than worth it. “I leave no heirs,” Ginczanka wrote in one of her poems, but it seems she has left behind something almost as good: a legacy to be rediscovered. Thank you, Tony.Serdar Yegulalp