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Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton

What Is Free to a Good Home?

(Last Gang; US: 24 Jul 2007; UK: Available as import)

What Is Free to a Good Home? is the companion piece to Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton’s full-length Knives Don’t Have Your Back. The collection’s six songs are subdued, further contrasting the Soft Skeleton crew (which hosts members of Sparklehorse and Stars alongside friends from Metric and Broken Social Scene) from Haines’s other personae. Overall, Good Home feels far more mature than Knives, perhaps only for its lack of filler—every song here is solid and five of six are new. Haines continues her spotlit trend, as the EP focuses on her singing and piano playing, but here, as on Knives, she has both the confidence and the air of a jazz singer, proving she can hold her own without all of the fancy instrumentation for which she’s more famously known. Though Haines remains, at times, lyrically questionable—it’s somewhat hard to understand, for example, what she means by a “bruised Billy Joel state of mind”— overall Good Home feels like a huge step. The EP is not only strong the whole way through but, regardless of its proximity to Knives, it leaves us feeling the way any successful EP should: like we’ve been given a taste only so we’ll crave more.

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A softer delivery perhaps, but a message that is still sharp as nails.
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