» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Kate Kennedy
Circle, Spiral, Line
Barely Bias

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

October 25, 2006
Somewhere in America, in one of those small, far-left-of-center liberal arts colleges in the Midwest, where nearly everyone is eccentric and nearly everything is protested in an epic struggle against conformity, Kate Kennedy is bound to be admired. She has the not-quite-good-enough-to-be-famous-but-still-pretty-and-quirky sound to appeal to the avant-garde student populations of those enlightened and ever-so pricy institutes of higher learning. On Circle, Spiral, Line, Ms. Kennedy, a singer-songwriter based in Des Moines, Iowa, ruminates on love, family, and memories through eleven predominantly acoustic tracks.

Ms. Kennedy is not, at least yet, in the same realm as Ani DiFranco, or even Lisa Loeb. But she is a worthy folk singer-songwriter with a slight tinge of pop in her music that has much heart. Ms. Kennedy's greatest fault is her voice, which, while earnest, is far from pitch-perfect. Her voice cracks on occasion, straining to keep up with the beautiful guitar work. Some of the lyrics do not work, either, and are simply awkward. Observe: "I am standing on the strata/ of the great men before me/ but I am buried underneath/ and the amoebas inform me." But there are other moments where Ms. Kennedy is quite introspective, such as on "Pilgrim Prodigal," where she notes: "sometimes people just want open minds/ so they can shove their thoughts in, unwanted." These lines bring me back to thoughts of those privileged colleges, where open minds are encouraged by the student body, but only if they're the right kind of open. Kate Kennedy is on to something here.

The instrumentation on Circle, Spiral, Line is quite good. Ms. Kennedy's strumming is expert, and slight percussion, occasional flutes, and several other instruments make cameo appearances throughout the album, drifting in and out of songs so inconspicuously that they could be missed. This is tender and sweet music. "W(rest)le" is particularly pretty, as is the final song, "The Back Flat," with its use of an accordion, piano, and simple, unpretentious lyrics to create an image of a quiet wood at dusk. It's a nice way to end a nice album.

This is music that will play best in one of those grungy off-campus coffee shops, where students go to study but never do, or in the dorm while experimenting with make-out sessions (or at least daydreams of them). It's not political enough, like most of DiFranco's work, to be taken too seriously, but it is nice music. Ms. Kennedy's vocals are not strong, but the music is interesting enough to keep the album balanced and, on the whole, worthwhile.

The lyrics of Circle, Spiral, Line, like its title, contain numerous references to geometric shapes. Ms. Kennedy presents to us a view of life that is much like geometry, a series of circles and lines where sometimes we end up exactly where we started, while at others there is no clear end in sight.

Reviewed by Eric J. Morgan
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Eric J. Morgan is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Colorado. He has an orange cat named Nelson and longs for the day when men and women will again dress in three-piece suits and pretty dresses to indulge in three-martini lunches and afternoon affairs.

See other reviews by Eric J. Morgan



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