Sunday, October 19, 2008

Album Review: Lipke, Volume Three

"Bodies broken by the roadside, sad to say it's nothin' new to me/I'll offer up a piece of advice: if you close your eyes, you never have to see." (from "On My Way")

One Note Ahead favorite Andrew Lipke currently has just one word in the "Sounds Like" section of his MySpace page: chutney. And nothing sounds more like chutney than his third album, Motherpearl and Dynamite, which drops on November 11th. More consistent than his first (Ghosts) and more demanding than his second (The Way Home...), Motherpearl is an intriguing effort whose highlights far outnumber its misfires.

Indeed, by my count there are only one and a half misfires to be found among the album's nine tracks. The half-misfire appears in the form of "Forgive and Forget." The lyrics are unusually mundane by Andrew's standards, and the melody is not ideally suited to his voice or range, but this recording of it does have a pleasant rootsy sound. I'm afraid I can't even be that kind to his Neil Young cover, "After The Goldrush." Andrew most definitely should not have tried to sing the song in Neil Young's key, and he doesn't help matters by leading The Prospects (formerly known as Bandrew) through a tedious arrangement.

Happily, the remaining tracks rise to a much higher level. Andrew has always split his energies between folk and rock, and this album contains some of his finest work in both genres. The best folky numbers on Motherpearl are all quietly intense ruminations on life and death. The haunting "On My Way" is my personal favorite, while "Flesh and Bone" is alarmingly nonchalant considering its weighty subject matter.

In a more electrified vein, "Get It Over With" is actually a simple pop song at heart, frosted, drizzled, and sprinkled with a bewildering series of stops and starts and impenetrable layers of solid sound. In its own strange way, it's one of the best tracks on the album. "The Barker Song" aptly fills a niche for quick-and-dirty rock 'n' roll, with wry lyrics and a quirky vocal. But for pure drama, nothing on the album can measure up to "Mindgames," a complex and disturbingly accurate analysis of sexual psychology in which Andrew's affinity for '90s alt-rock collides head-on with his love of Led Zeppelin. Andrew's blistering Rickenbacker solo should go down in history as one of the greatest rock guitar solos of all time.

The self-produced Motherpearl is Andrew's second album for MAD Dragon Records, and it seems to be getting more of a promotional push than his MAD Dragon debut The Way Home... ever received. In a sense, this is unfortunate. Home... contained many great songs that were also ultra-commercial. Motherpearl has a lot of strong material, but aside from "The Barker Song," nothing on it really sounds like an obvious single. Thus, while this album will likely receive more attention than its predecessor, it probably won't become the breakthrough its predecessor could have been.

Andrew Lipke's Motherpearl and Dynamite: the perfect addition to your next samosa tray.

For music and more info:

One Note Ahead review of The Way Home... :

Copyright © 2008 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.

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