Disperse CD offers listeners wide range of musical stylings. By: Bryce Mayer Editor North Vernon Plain Dealer and Sun Start with a combination of Grace Slick and Natalie Merchant, add liberal dashes of Janis Joplin and Tina Turner, sprinkle in a bit of Alanis Morisette and Sheryl Crowe, and you get the general idea of Chelsey Pieratt's voice. In other words, her voice is indescribably unique. Those who have heard Pieratt sing with Touch of Class, the Jennings County High School's swing choir, the JCHS concert choir or on a stage with the Jennings County Players, as she did so wonderfully in last summer's production of 'The Secret Garden', know what a powerful voice she has. Bur until you hear her sing with Disperse on a recently-released 12-song CD entitled 'Better Place', you really haven't heard what this precocious 16-year-old can do. Disperse is far more than just Pieratt. The five-piece group of musicians includes three juniors and one sophomore at Jennings County High School. The other band member was only graduated from JCHS last spring. For such a young crew, the debut album is a mind-boggling compilation of ear-pleasing tunes and well-phrased lyrics. Disperse is a Christian rock band with heavy emphasis on guitars masterfully played by Chris Billings and Andy Higham. Mild fuzz-box distortion, particularly on the creative 'Sally' and 'Hippocritic Oaf', heighten the rock effect. So does the bass playing of Nic Higham, Andy's younger brother, which is particularly impressive on the aforementioned 'Sally'. Then there is the drum work of Dustin Sanders, who also shows his versatility with keyboards on the upbeat 'Hippie Tree Song'. Here is a polished percussionist who shines on every cut, perhaps no more so than 'Question of Life' and 'Amazing Grace', the only song on the CD that is not totally original - though the melody and arrangement certainly are. Mike Higham contributed as well. Eight of the tunes were co-written by him. He is the father to Andy and Nic and assisted in the CD's final mix. The songs are excellent and moving, particularly 'The Way', a poignant tear-jerker that is dedicated to the life of Josiah Yeager, a North Vernon youth who died in a traffic mishap last summer. Recorded on the independent Route 7 Records label at David Nay's Paradise Studios in northern Jennings County, 'Better Place' is a musical gem and a remarkable piece of work. The fact that the musicians in Disperse are so young makes this CD even more astonishing. These guys rock, sometimes leaning toward pop, other times toward metal and always producing a perfect vehicle for Pieratt's enchanting voice. JOURNEY TO A BETTER PLACE 'Better Place', the electrifying first CD project from DISPERSE, is a journey, as in life itself. The opening selections, 'Father's Eyes' and 'The Way' express the youthful optimism of hope in the midst of unexplainable events. In 'Question of Life', the somber beats and deep guitars sweep over you as doubts and questions distort a clear vision of the future. The scattered rhythm of 'Little Girl' begs to develop a sense of responsibility for your actions. Dipping into typical teenage tempests, 'Where Were You', dealing with teenage pregnancy; and 'Sally', trying to come to grips with teenage suicide, envelop the listener in a hypnotic beat, asking 'where were you when I needed you the most, I thought you said you'd always be there?' The title track, 'Better Place', starts to gather some sense of your journey, and; as so often is the case, we find ourselves in a prison of our own choosing. 'Lonely Boy' examines pressures characterized by the prevalent teasing and belittling brought on by the choices one makes, and the philosophy on life that is beginning to take shape. As we look to our elders we realize it is not enough to imitate others. 'if you're gonna talk the talk, then you gotta walk the walk' is a sharp condemnation of the 'Hippocritic Oaf'. Rising out of the valley of shadows in life, 'Hippie Tree Song' helps us realize the importance of love in our journey. And making that journey with a friend at your side is all important, as in 'My Angel'. The end result, as in every journey to find truth, is the 'Amazing Grace' that has carried our every step, having been blind to this truth before, we now observe. However dark along the path, however clouded our vision, evident throughout the entire journey is hope: hope in true friendship, hope in a strong faith, and hope in a 'Better Place'. PECULIAR PEOPLE PRODUCTIONS.