Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2006, Volume 13, #8
Written by John Metzger
Edie Brickell & New Bohemians was a good band that was on the verge of becoming a great one when it suddenly disbanded after its sophomore effort Ghost of a Dog failed to achieve the same level of commercial success as its platinum-selling debut Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars. Though Brickell made several attempts at forging a solo career via the slick sterility of Picture Perfect Morning as well as the subtle beauty of Volcano, neither album quite captured the organic essence of the work that she did with her former group. Unexpectedly, she reunited with New Bohemians in order to craft her latest outing Stranger Things, and unlike the ensembleís independently released The Live Montauk Sessions, the collection is a worthy follow-up to its early endeavors.
Granted, there are moments on Stranger Things when New Bohemians sounds a little tentative in its pursuits, which isnít a terribly surprising notion to consider, given that itís been 16 years since the band officially has issued a new album. Nevertheless, tracks such as No Dinero and Mainline Cherry ó the former with its Afro-Cuban-kissed groove and the latter with its steamy, sexual aura ó feel fully realized, as if theyíve been road-tested to perfection. Elsewhere, on Long Lost Friend, the collective attempts to tap into the same punk-ish fury that propelled Keep Coming Back, and although the song doesnít contain quite the same ferocity as its predecessor, it does inject an energetic punch into the latter half of the set.
For the most part, however, Stranger Things settles into a comfortably relaxed space that is poised at the crossroads where The Eagles, Blondie, the Grateful Dead, and í70s-style R&B meet. In fact, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians has never sounded more soulful, blues-y, or mature. Throughout the endeavor, Brickellís pliant vocals commingle with Carter Albrechtís jazz-tinged piano interludes as well as Kenny Withrowís emotionally saturated guitar accompaniments, while bass player Brad Houser, drummer Brandon Aly, and percussionist John Bush ply the material with loose, freewheeling grooves. Tucked inside both Oh My Soul and the title track is a touch of the Rolling Stones, while the atmospheric arrangement of Buffalo Ghost transforms Brickellís awakened memories into spectres that lurk within each haunted wisp of slide guitar. Though the surreal heaviness of the improvisational Elephants and Ants as well as the percolating rhythms and Southern rock textures of Spanish Style Guitar conclude the album on a high note, itís on One Last Time that the band fully hits its stride. As Brickell sings about a final effort to salvage a relationship that has gone sour, New Bohemians creates a warm, inviting atmosphere that perfectly frames the yearning in her voice, and the result is a song that ought to provide the ensemble with the perfect vehicle for retaking the pop charts. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box