Monica Walsh’s Spider/Fly is bound to keep you interested. There’s remarkable variety track to track, and every track offers a new strength. She also had a little help from a strong pedigree of friends, including Elliot Dicks, Jenny Gear, and John Dawe.
That was all part of her plan. “I choose local musicians who I love, and asked them to record the songs with me. I like doing it that way because A) I get to record with people I love and admire, and B) It gives the RPM a variety of sound.”
The opening track is strikingly original and vocally driven, and the instrument is the little known Psaltery. Hers was made by Newfoundlander Steve Woodcock. “It’s kinda of like a wooden zither (another name for it), like a little harp. It is cute,” she says.
The opening track gives way to an acoustic rocker bound to get lodged in your ear for the day, The “West End Angels,” a song about Monica’s experience growing up as a “weird” child in the Ropewalk Lane Area, including teenage memories of a friend holding her hair while she threw up booze.
“The girls who were the kindest to me were the ones who later would be called skeets,” she says. “I hate that word, I find it elitist and snobby. Also, ironic because like I say , as a weirdo who grew up and went to school near Mundy Pond, those kids were the ones I found to be the kindest.”
The song was her way of expressing love for the west-end kids “who may have grown up without a lot of money, but who were the kindest kids I grew up with. I guess it hurts me to now hear them called skeets, because it’s not always meant in a loving way.”
The brown lipstick referenced in the chorus? “I remember them showing me how to wear brown lipstick too. It is me trying to talk about a side of St. John’s culture that often gets made fun of and pushed aside, a part of town that isn’t part of the downtown scene or the cultural elite. I know people don’t mean harm when they use ‘skeet’ but it can be harmful and judgemental.”
You can hear she had a little help from some friends, because you can actually hear their voices before tracks 3 and 5 get started (a coughing kid is asked to join the band on the latter). Man of many kits, Elliot Dicks (The Novaks, The Monday Nights, etc) appears on tracks 6 and 9, proving his versatility as a drummer for anyone’s sound.
“I’m proud of all the songs on Spider/Fly, but I really like track number 6 that I recorded with Elliot Dicks,” she says of “An Angry Woman is Worse Than an Unfair Man.”
“I wrote it because I feel that our society is often more offended by the REACTION a woman has to something bad that is done to her, rather than the offending action that drove her to her anger.”
The other one she and Dicks did together is delightfully original — good luck even identifying the whistly-sounding instrument at work over the drums on Track 9 (“Let Her Know”). The song shows a unique side of both Walsh’s and Dicks’ musicality.
“It truly offends me when women are kept in the dark about being cheated on; about something she SHOULD know,” Walsh says of the song. “I feel we reduce women to children when we use the ‘don’t tell her, oh it’s not my place to tell, what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her’ mentality to excuse not telling a woman something she deserves to know, simply because we are uncomfortable with her reaction.”