First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2005, Volume 12, #4
Written by T.J. Simon
Much like Jules Shear, Bob Hillman, Eytan Mirsky, and countless others, Jonathan Rundman is a singer-songwriter who deserves far more attention than he typically has received. On his latest release Public Library, the Minneapolis resident is backed by The Silos as he delivers 11 original, catchy pop songs filled with intelligent lyrics and jaunty instrumentation. The disc begins at its highest point with Smart Girls, a brainy and buoyant number touting the benefits of intellect when searching for a mate. With his slightly nasal but generally pleasant vocals, Rundman adopts a no-frills, They Might Be Giants-style posture on two of the albumís strongest tracks, Falling Down and Librarian. The latter selection finds Rundman romanticizing the stereotypical, mundane job without even a touch of mockery. In addition, his instrumentation consistently is compelling, with the Wurlitzer and string quartet sprucing up Second Language, and the boogie-woogie baritone guitar driving the country-flavored 747s.
Unfortunately, Public Library, despite its strengths, also has its share of missteps. Rundmanís attempt at Appalachian folk falls as flat as his whispered vocals on Almost Never See, and things get a bit too repetitive lyrically on The Serious Kind. Elsewhere, Cuban Missile Crisis is a well-written love song set on the brink of the 1963 disaster that betrays its great lyrics with a dull tune. However, in the end, Public Library ultimately is a rewarding exercise in the kind of literate and smart songwriting that more artists in the genre should pursue. Ĺ
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box