Despite Our Differences
The Music Box's #22 album of 2006
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2006, Volume 13, #9
Written by John Metzger
After it reached the big time in 1989 by scoring a hit single with Closer to Fine, the Indigo Girls admirably spent the next decade doing everything it could to make sure that each of its endeavors was markedly different from its predecessor. However, by the time the duo released its seventh outing Come On Now Social, the strain of its ambitions had begun to weigh heavily upon its work, and the challenge of trying push its music in new directions while also retaining the organic effortlessness of its past affairs proved to be almost too much to bear. Although it further highlighted the problems the group was experiencing, the Indigo Girls’ career-spanning Retrospective provided an opportunity for reflection, which, in turn, allowed it to take a back-to-basics approach on its subsequent albums Become You and All that We Let In.
The Indigo Girls’ latest effort Despite Our Differences continues to follow a similar trajectory, though note-for-note, it also is the most infectious, pop-infused set that the duo ever has managed to concoct. In fact, its melodies, harmonies, and arrangements are so ingratiating that — from the bracing, Who-inspired power chords of Rock and Roll Heaven’s Gate (which includes a guest appearance by Pink) to the shimmering, XTC-meets-Bob Dylan charm of Pendulum Swinger to the soaring and soulful strains of the Billy Joel-inspired Lay My Head Down — the album carries the weight of an instant classic.
Featuring energetic rock songs that are interspersed with gentler, folk-oriented fare, Despite Our Differences is delightfully well paced, and it plays directly to the Indigo Girls’ strengths without being delivered in such an agreeable fashion that it begins to feel lightweight. With a backing band that includes drummer Matt Chamberlain, bass player Clare Kenny, pedal steel guitarist Greg Leisz, and keyboard player Carol Isaacs, the Indigo Girls, along with producer Mitchell Froom, keeps the up-tempo tracks tight and punchy, while also giving the softer selections ample room to breathe. Intertwining songs about weathering storms of both a political and a personal nature, the Indigo Girls turns the perseverance of its career into an endearing and affecting song cycle that professes a belief in the power of love to provide strength and comfort in times of distress.
Of Further Interest...
Despite Our Differences is available from Barnes & Noble.
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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