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Lovers

I Am the West

(Able Heart; US: 29 Apr 2009; UK: 29 Apr 2009 (MP3 Only))

Carolyn Berk, singer/songwriter/leader of Portland, Oregon’s Lovers, is emotionally vulnerable. Her resignation is her strength, enabling her to approach failed romance with frankness and a certain defiance. This approach, along with her wounded-yet-mannered singing voice, recalls nothing so much as New Wave-era singer/songwriter Martha Davis. Likewise, the vaguely artful, synth-shaded arrangements on I Am the West is heavily indebted to Davis’ band, the Motels. The album starts strongly, edgy pop songs like “How the Story Ends” and “Let’s Stay Lost” providing an effective backdrop for Berk’s naked, often striking lyrics. As it progresses, though, I Am the West gets bogged down by too many nondescript, midetmpo arrangements and songs about “wrestling horses”. Actually, there’s only one of those, but it’s one too many. Still, this could well make the day of people who would love Rilo Kiley were it not for Jenny Lewis’ “look at me!” causticity.

Rating:

John Bergstrom has been writing various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2004. He has been a music fanatic at least since he and a couple friends put together The Rock Group Dictionary in third grade (although he now admits that giving Pat Benatar the title of "first good female rocker" was probably a mistake). He has done freelance writing for Trouser Pressonline, Milwaukee's Shepherd Express, and the late Milk magazine and website. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids, both of whom are very good dancers.


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