heatherpharesletter2

Open Letter to Heather Phares

March 13, 2011

A little while back I made a resolution to contact my favorite artists and give thanks. I started with this letter to Heather Phares.

She is a writer for allmusic.com who has written many well observed album reviews. I came upon her well written reviews time and time again when I was researching an album or artist, and always found them really expressive and helpful.

I couldn’t figure out how to contact her through the site,
so instead I wrote an open letter of appreciation to her.


Hi Heather,

I just wanted to thank you for your countless thoughtful and insightful music reviews.

Your music reviews at Allmusic have always helped guide my decisions about what bands to check out, albums to pursue, give a second chance, or see in a different light.

I first singled out your reviews years ago when I became increasingly interested in Broadcast. As I got deeper into their catalog, I felt very well guided by your brief artfully articulate (sometimes downright poetic) descriptions:

“Trish Keenan’s air-conditioned vocals”

“layers of chopped up, sawing strings giving it an oddly and sweetly tentative feel.”

“…she can still occasionally seem to be hovering slightly outside the songs.”

I respect how you can crystallize the amorphous quality of musical impressions. I don’t know how many times I’ve been reading an allmusic album review when I was startled by a pointedly specific yet poetically expansive description, and looked up to see “by Heather Phares” at the top of the review.

Quick and economic as your words are, they often wholly gather the richness and subtlety of your subject, such as when you wrote of The National’s lead singer: “dark chocolate richness of Matt Berninger’s vocals”

So thanks for the great work,
and I look foreword to many more reviews from you in the future.

All the best,

-Ali

heatherpharesletter2

3 Comments
  1. Ali:
    I just had a similar urge and commend you on openly contacting artists you appreciate. I know they typically enjoy the feedback (I do this from time to time, myself.
    I just did a little googling and saw that she has a fb but other than that, I couldn’t find a matching twitter acct or anything. Maybe you could send her a link to this via fb messenger? I just discovered her well written reviews on AllMusic by researching Laika Come Home, the remix album put out by Gorillaz in 2003. Happy writing!

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  2. Hi Casey,

    I think initially when I wrote this I tried to message her directly by emailing the allmusic website, but I’m guessing it never found its way to her. To be honest I feel a bit squeamish about pushing to reach her. I can’t help but think that as a woman in such a space as online music criticism, she has have already had to deal with a lot of creepy dudes trying to talk to her, and though I don’t have any self serving motivations, there is no way for her to know that, so I kind of think it’s best to just have this exist on my site and she can come across it or not. It’s weird because I agree with you that artists enjoy the feedback, as do I, but in this case I’m too worried about seeming pushy or stalkerish or something :/

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  3. Found this post while trying to find out more info about Heather Phares, whose reviews of albums by the band Clinic (and others) are absolutely spot-on and magnificent.

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