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Janet Bean and the Concertina Wire
DRAGGING WONDER LAKE
(THRILL JOCKEY)
Stars graphics

Those who remember Bean best for her powerful drumming with Chicagoís roots psychedelia prodigals Eleventh Dream Day will be shocked by her singer-songwriter alter ego. But even listeners familiar with her solo work will find this album surprising. In the past sheís made slightly dusty alterna-country-folk discs on her own. This is more of a rich-and-clean-sounding í70s singer-songwriter effort ó part Carole King and part Dusty Springfield, albeit with lesser vocal command. Nonetheless, Bean knows how to build the right arrangements for her breathy, breeze-swept singing, using steel guitars, piano, strings, and cornet to create gently moving melodies. The piano ballad "Suddenly" sets the tone as the albumís opener; itís followed by the country-rock-flavored "All Foolís Day." Things go best in the middle when Randy Newmanís cynical Bible story "The God Song (Thatís Why I Love Mankind)," the skewering of macho military posturing in "The Purple Heart," and Neil Youngís "Soldier" form a kind of protest suite that subtly illuminates the falsehoods being pursued and peddled by our leaders. What Beanís really specializing at here, though, is soft-selling gentle tunes that brim with sadness and a hint of redemption.

BY TED DROZDOWSKI


Issue Date: August 8 - August 14, 2003
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