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Martha Berner and the Significant Others

Fool's Fantasy

(Poprock; US: 13 Dec 2011; UK: 13 Dec 2011)

A significant number of good tunes

Chicago’s rootsy chateuse Martha Berner possesses a rich, soulful voice which serves her well in her latest offering, Fool’s Fantasy. Opening with jerky cello before a swift segue into bluesy-jam territory, “Fool’s Fantasy” establishes the terrain of the record, both sonically and lyrically. Follow-up “Brave” is the best song here, with its spitfire lyrics and bouncing, throbbing beat; other highlights include the rough-and-tumble “Adore Me II” and the almost industrial backdrop to the otherwise low-key “Some Stay a While.” Berner’s backing band, the Significant Others, is tight throughout, offering a variety of sonic textures that usually complement the song. Not every tune is memorable, though, and the back half of the record flags, with songs like “Irene”, “Never Talked to Oz”, and album closer “Burning Candles” falling into generic singer-songwriter territory. Despite this, Berner has a good voice, a solid band, and a fair number of strong tunes on display here.

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DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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