Both albums, The Way We Are and Delusions of Grandeur.
Their first was Delusions, and it was rock to the core. Difficult subject matter is broached with honesty and whimsy at the same time. The musicality, however, was not second on the list. They retain tight control over every chord and transition, turning it into a musician’s playground as well as a tool from which budding musicians may learn.
They are a married couple with real skill. Fleming’s vocals are second to none. She can flow from rock to big band to operatic octave jumps without thinking twice. John Mark Painter played every instrument except drums (Fleming’s brother did that). Painter even taught himself how to play new instruments just to get the exact right sound for their second album. He was obviously not impressed with the samples he could have gotten off any decent engineering program. And thank goodness. It gave the album that extra sincerity not found in layer upon layer of samples.
Way is their foray into expressing emotions with completely different styles of music: a touch of punk, a bit of emo, rock ballads, love songs, a haunting theme, a disco romp, and a jazz epilogue. All without selling either the lyrics or the style short one bit. In musicianship, it is rare to flow seamlessly from one style to another with complete competence.
Way is dominated by themes of love, relationship, what it means to be married while your friends are still dating, and the inevitable broken heart. There is seriousness and lightheartedness at once. And who has ever compared their spouse to a La-Z-Boy recliner? Fleming and John, that’s who.
John moved on to some producing and they started a family, so their music took a back seat after the second album. They did a special song for a Christmas album, but it was only one song and it wasn’t the best. I only wish we had more material from them. If they ever do release a comeback album, it will be the first on my list of music to purchase.
Listen to “Not Afraid” by Fleming and John.
Listen to “Letters in my Head” by Fleming and John.
Listen to “I’m So Small” by Fleming and John.
Listen to “The Pearl” by Fleming and John.