The Babes of Bliss Strike Again

Dying, Laughing (Free Your Dream)
Troubadours of Divine Bliss

By David Lilly

It's a scream. It's a tranquilizer. It's a riot and a philosophy class. It might even move the stoics. It's the only product you will ever require; it's Dying, Laughing, the newest CD from the Troubadours of Divine Bliss. Known individually as Aim Me Smiley on guitar and Renee Ananda on accordion, this duo is easy on the ears.

A life that includes a vision of bliss does not necessarily mean a life of hedonism. That becomes clear right away as Aim Me and Renee carry us off to some European cafe with a cover of "Dance Me to the End of Love," which was penned by the master of melancholy himself, Leonard Cohen.

The best qualities of this pair include musical and lyrical gifts, wisdom, a timeless repertoire and having the courage to practice what they "preach." Also, their singing is absolutely out of this world. The vibrato throughout this disc sounds like vocal flags waving in the wind. Whether intentionally or not, some of this material (especially "Free Your Dream Carnival") evokes styles of early 20th century music we might hear on cleaned-up 78-rpm records. In other words, these women acknowledge no stylistic boundaries or limitations. I pity (and envy) the poor music store clerks who might have to choose a genre for ToDB CDs.

Moving - ahem - blissfully along: In the wake of the Cohen cover, "Trapdoor" treads sullenly while insisting on a spiritual rejuvenation at a dead-end of sorts. The positive messages continue with "Mission Possible," including a funky rhythm carrying the encouraging words, "You've got what it takes/To make the mission possible/Whatcha wishin' for your mission/You've gone undercover to discover/all that you've been given/Equips you for your livin'." A little later comes a universal experience taking the shape of a "Secret Admirer." Most people, especially the more insecure and introverted among us, have lived the lines, "If I seem a little nervous/Maybe it's because I care/Maybe I wouldn't be nervous/if we weren't breathing the same air." If you have experienced that depth of shyness you can truly relate to the song.

Near the half-way point I thought, "Oh man, not another artist playing a Rumi song; enough already!" Indeed, this Louisville duo plays music to a poem (translated into English) by 13th century spiritual leader and poet Rumi. All right, so "Rumi at the Inn" might not enter the top 40, but like, dig that wordplay, man. The song is part honky tonk, part blues and contributes to making this CD worth listening to. The aforementioned "Dream Carnival" would be right at home in the film Moulin Rouge. 'Tis yet another liberating, infectious and wildly vocalicious reason to put this CD into your listening rotation.

Dying, Laughing is the third CD from this eccentric duo. Not only does it start with the aforementioned Cohen cover, but near the end of the disc, they throw in a crazy version of "The Roadrunner/Bugs Bunny Hour" theme song. Makes a person curious about their first two discs, eh?

Are you ready to ask, "Have you no beefs at all with the ToDB?" I like this music pretty well as-is, but I confess I'd sure like to know what they'd sound like with bass and drums and maybe even some brass. Not only that, but, gee Wally, what if they used an orchestra? Otherwise, the lyrics inside the cover could've used a bigger font and should definitely not obscure the photo of these cuties. If they continue to play as a duo with just minimal instrumental help on recordings, I'll be glad to keep listening.

Aim Me and Renee can be can be found at