Having heard a lot of these tracks at her recent gigs, I thought it was going to be easy to love this album. In fact I thought it was going to be her masterpiece, all catchy melodies and perfectly crafted lyrics. I nearly burst with anticipation waiting for the release date.
Multiple listenings later, I feel like a party pooper, because it all just sounds a bit lazy and plodding. The problem for me is the sub-Lanois production. Lucinda sounds just fine in a stripped-down band setting, but here she's treated with strings, atmosphere, and more twiddly bits than you might care to remember, and it all just gets in the way. Great musicians doing nothing special, slowly. As a result it all sounds the same with no natural dynamics or colour, and Lucinda sounds like she's on auto-pilot throughout. The best comparison I can think of is the mess Phil Spector made of Leonard Cohen on Death Of A Ladies Man.
The search for studio atmosphere seems to have had a negative impact on her song writing too, because a lot of the craft has been reduced to stream of consciousness repetition. And it's had the same effect on Doug Pettibone - I don't hear anything here to compare with his extraordinary playing on World Without Tears or Live at the Filmore. There are no songs here to lift your spirits in the way Ventura or Overtime can. It particularly irritates me that this production makes me focus on the shallow styling rather than the content of the songs, which is at the heart of Lucinda's appeal.
So that's it, ho hum. I'm glad she's tried something exploratory and different.I'm just really, really, disappointed it turned out so smooth and pleasant in all the worst kind of ways. I think its a wrong turn, let's hope a temporary one.