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 V.17 No.10 | March 6 - 12, 2008 

Sonic Reducer

Sera Cahoone Only as the Day is Long (Sub Pop)

Sera Cahoone isn't writing a new chapter in the story of alt.country, but she's adding a few colorful pages to the book. The former drummer in indie faves Carissa's Weird and Band of Horses tries her hand at singer/songwriting and makes a couple handfuls of quiet, cloudy melodies that pour on the pity. Save for a pinch of pedal steel and banjo, the bulk of the backup to Cahoone's weightless vocals comes from plodding acoustic guitar—the album suffers slightly from a dragging tempo. Perhaps overly simplistic, but never offensive, Only as the Day is Long is a carefully constructed LP with a lot of promise. (SM)

Julie Hardy The Wish (World Culture Music)

On The Wish, promising singer/composer Julie Hardy sometimes undercuts her tremendous gifts. Though possessing a voice of natural clarity and depth, she tends to use it too carefully, and while her arrangements of standards are personally unique, she delivers others’ lyrics somewhat stiffly, as if from an emotional distance. (It’s not a problem with her own. On “3000 Miles,” she inhabits and shares the ache.) As a composer, Hardy tells engaging stories, and in her six compositions, she vocalizes wordlessly with grace and expressive freedom. But she gives too much soloing time to her bandmates, depriving us of more of her. (MM)

Erykah Badu New Amerykah (Universal Motown)

Erykah Badu’s return to the recording studio has been long awaited. Five years since Worldwide Underground, Badu drops New Amerykah, the first installation in a series of albums addressing the state of America. The album kicks off like a Dolamite soundtrack but switches momentum into a neo-soul train by track No. 3. New Amerykah is full of deep-rooted political poetry, but what really sings are the down-tempo Baduizm-influenced pieces. One of many good things that come from this album is the direction and innovation of the music. Badu might not save the world, but she certainly will help shape the face of R&B and soul. (JH)

(SM) Simon McCormack, (MM) Mel Minter, (JH) Justin Hood

 
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