Music

Amy Ray: Lung of Love

Morgan Troper

Amy Ray has produced a damn decent pop/rock record from beginning to end. There's no wheel reinventing here, but certainly some wheel-lubricating.


Amy Ray

Lung of Love

Label: Daemon
US Release Date: 2012-02-28
UK Release Date: 2012-02-28
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Any artistic output that matches the consistent modesty of the Indigo Girls' could, on the flip side, be criticized for being unambitious -- with every new LP from the 'Girls, you can expect another batch of straight arrow folk pop/rock pearls, but very little if any divergence from the formula they've thoroughly established. But who could really complain? Not only do the Indigo Girls (as well as Amy Ray, individually) fill the classicist folk/rock/pop hole almost singularly, but adherence to convention is absolutely encouraged in the folk tradition that they're (sorta) disciples of. You always know precisely what you're getting yourself into here.

It's easy to forget that Lung of Love is an Amy Ray solo effort because there are several moments where it sounds like a new, slightly offbeat Indigo Girls record, and this is anything but surprising, considering Ray's attachment to the pop/rock blueprint whether or not she happens to be teaming up with fellow Indigo Girl Emily Saliers.

However, Ray has always been been the more thoughtful (and "rock"ful) of the pair -- the Lennon to Saliers' ebullient McCartney, if you'll forgive the disproportionate analogy -- and her solemnity permeates the entire album, even in a relatively upbeat track like "Glow", which lands squarely in powerpop territory and begs comparison with another Aimee. "When You're Gone, You're Gone" and "I Didn't" do a great job of demonstrating Ray's still-fantastic voice, and the affected political suggestions within "From Haiti" are still thankfully overshadowed by the unwavering "chug-chug" rhythm and infectious vocal melody that carry the song. "Crying In The Wilderness" is more redolent of Ray's previous work in the Indigo Girls than any other song on the album, and this can likely be attributed to its spontaneous guitar slides and boisterous banjo, as well as pastoral allusions in the song's lyrics that don't really abound anywhere else on the record. The ambiguous "Little Revolution" is incontestably the song's sparkling pop highlight; filled with frenetic drum fills and '60s-tinged vocal harmonies, it brings to mind downer guitar pop bands like the Lemonheads. "The Rock Is My Foundation" is a fairly ludicrous attempt at a gospel that affects the album's otherwise comely flow, but the title track which follows it is good enough to remedy this hindrance. Filled to the brim with creative chord changes and lyrical triumphs, it's reminiscent of Figure 8-era Elliot Smith, and it's entirely unsurprising that it birthed the title of the album. Ray's blown-out vocal in "Give It a Go" is the sort of aesthetic that I wish she would explore more thoroughly, as it suits the song more than I'm sure anybody could have expected; and "Bird in the Hand" is a fitting jubilation of a record closer.

Without a doubt, Lung of Love's highlights are Ray's wonderful voice and rivaled-by-few melodic leanings. However, when the songs step into political territory I can't help but quiver. While Ray's attempt at tackling untraversed political issues is valiant, "meaningful" folk songs are unquestionably trite, and even in spite of her "punk rock" essence, it's hard to tell how into it she really is, or if they're just there because people expect them to be. But with the exception of these few straggling moments, Amy Ray has produced a damn decent pop/rock record from beginning to end. There's no wheel reinventing here, but certainly some wheel-lubricating.

7

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

It's just past noon on a Tuesday, somewhere in Massachusetts and Eric Earley sounds tired.

Since 2003, Earley's band, Blitzen Trapper, have combined folk, rock and whatever else is lying around to create music that manages to be both enigmatic and accessible. Since their breakthrough album Furr released in 2008 on Sub Pop, the band has achieved critical acclaim and moderate success, but they're still some distance away from enjoying the champagne lifestyle.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image