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Music

Frank Ciampi

Big Top Woman

(Self-released; US: 23 Dec 2007; UK: Available as import)

Sure, it’s tough to top the absurdist kink of a song like “Big Top Woman”, the lead-off title track to Boston singer-songwriter Frank Ciampi’s debut album, what with its White Album-era lounge-blooze shuffle, brusque horns, and delightfully vivid lyric (“Time has come for everyone to see her / She’ll juggle flame and watch those lions tease her”). But Ciampi’s smart songwriting and appetite for the paradigms of classic pop and rock are a constant, impulsive force throughout Big Top Woman‘s 11 tracks, which alternate between sinuous Pet Sounds elegance (“Madeline Maybe”), prog-leaning power-pop (“Little Girl”), and McCartney-esque medleys (“On the Road”). Ciampi isn’t just an imitator of aesthetic, however—from song to song, he bends each archetype to his post-modern, irreverent will, yielding spring-loaded pop that’s both fresh and familiar.

Rating:

Zeth Lundy has been writing for PopMatters since 2004. He is the author of Songs in the Key of Life (Continuum, 2007), and has contributed to the Boston Phoenix, Metro Boston, and The Oxford American. He lives in Boston.


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