Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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Sound Check


Sara RouthSara Routh
“Black Sheep”

The best ideas are often the simplest ones, and “Black Sheep” is a deceptively simple EP. For five songs, all you get is Routh and her guitar. And while that has been done time and time again by a veritable laundry list of musicians, Routh’s work still manages to catch you in time and make your world stop for a little bit. Routh’s lyrics are good; she is clever and clearly writes from her heart. But it is that voice and the way she makes it dip and dive and swirl around your head like a half-remembered dream that make “Black Sheep” worth your time and effort. The title track is clearly Routh’s favored darling on the album, but opener “Wildling — the melancholy delight with the ghost of Nancy Sinatra dancing across Routh’s tongue — is the album’s real star. CV


Ben FoldsBen Folds
“So There”
New West Records

Ben Folds knows that he is really good. He knows just how talented he is, and it feels as though he got bored with just being good and has spent the last decade or so intentionally seeing how boring and bland he can be. “So There” ups the ante on this experiment by taking an incredibly intriguing idea and still finding a way to make it largely forgettable. “So There” is eight songs featuring Folds backed by, among other things, a symphony orchestra. While that may sound amazing — and at times almost manages to be — Folds is far too introspective and small-scale of a writer to really harness the macro-view sound of the musicians playing behind him. It is not that anything on “So There” misses its mark — Folds is far too talented to unintentionally release a dud — but, instead, the problem that brings “So There” down is that Folds never aims as high as he should. CV

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