Kele Fleming began writing World in Reverse with the goal of creating a sonic novel. By the time she was done, she had created a sonic Ulysses, a series of vignettes that coalesce into a subtle social commentary.
The English Lit major and leader of the 90s pop band Hazel Motes had previously combined her talents in music and text on her 2004 album songs from the tinforest, a collection of her poetry set to music. Now the woman The Province said “might have the most original songwriting style in Vancouver” fuses the disciplines more fully – joining her highly literate lyrics, idiosyncratic compositions and ambitious artistic vision into a cohesive body of work that, as the title suggests, reflects on a feeling of life in regression.
Some songs are about lives ending just as they should be blossoming. Some are about the earth itself decaying through environmental damage. Others are about love affairs or life plans doing 180 degree turns. What makes the work stand out from other songs on similar topics is Fleming’s singular voice as a songwriter.
So talented is she that World’s lyric sheet alone reads like a work of starkly hard-hitting poetry. There’s no mistaking that “Crowsnest” and “Inescapable Jesus” are about murdered women – although the word is never uttered – or that “The Ladder” and “World in Reverse” are about environmental destruction.