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Lost in sorrow
on 6 September 2009
This album is two parts, 'Broken' and the rest. Broken is a fine piece of music, catchy, beautifully made with a clever construction, driving rythmns and Merritt's gentle understated singing voice. Merritt is alt country, and alt country does catchy, but then so did Bach. Catchy + quality is a huge recommendation. It's posssibly the best single track she has to date.
The rest of the album made me think of Joni Mitchell, and when I read the sleeve notes I understood why. Many female singers do an album like this, when life has taken a bad turn; they get lost in emoshuns and musically they just get lost, they do it quite well, but sacrifice their greatest strength. Mitchell can do this successfully because of her caustic witty self criticism, which dispels any impression of self indulgence, and her strong musical personality. She is the exception.
The first Merritt album I bought was Tambourine, with its powerful riffs and stellar backing behind her wonderful songs. Perhaps that is the biggest waekness of this album. Tambourine was an album of Merritt with a collection of excellent musicians. This one is Merritt, and oh, some other guys. The musical force is just not there, the backing is often at best pedestrian, predictable and lacking in invention. Had I bought this first, I would not have bothered to buy Tambourine.
However, it is worth buying for 'Broken', if nothing else. I very much hope that for her 4th studio album she gets back with Mike Campbell and co. That would be something to look forward.