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I Had A New York Girlfriend
Format: Audio CDChange
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2009
This collection of Americana with a few odd ones out was recorded in Melbourne, using members of Nick Cave's band, and sounds as drifty, smoky and Australian as anything Robert Forster has done. The album title comes from a Modern Lovers song; there's no Jonathan Richman here, but there's the suggestion of a narrative - a kind of American love story that begins with fire and angst and ends in the barroom, drinking beer.

The album opener, Nature's Way, comes from Spirit's Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus - something of a surprise in itself, since Forster had never revealed any leaning towards freakiness up till that point. Echo Beach is another unpredictable choice; he sounds winsomely out of it throughout, while a lonesome fiddle gets busy around him.

There is something nuggety about Forster's song selection in general. A much-neglected Dylan song from the much-neglected Nashville Skyline album, Tell Me That It Isn't True, dovetails extraordinarily with the Husker Du song 2541 - which does, funnily enough, sound a lot more like the Go-Betweens than anything else on the record. One further nugget comes in the shape of a Neil Diamond pop song, a little flash of sunlight from the same stable as I'm A Believer. One song that wasn't a nugget in the original, a beautiful acoustic number called Locked Away from a Keith Richard's solo record, becomes one under the Forster treatment.

The band sound big and billowy and spontaneous. The only reservation I have about this album is the way it gets all quiet and sombre towards the end, fading away in a way that may be intended but which is still a pity. It is hard to imagine Robert Forster crying into his beer - that is the problem. He is too sardonic for that type of song to stick for him. But the slight tailing off doesn't diminish by much one of the best things Forster has done.
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