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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
Mary Lou Lord
Baby Blue
Rubric Records

Rating: 4/10 ?

October 1, 2004
One has to wonder if the title of this release was shortened from It's All Over Now, Baby Blue. Mary Lou Lord rode the height of pseudo-celebrity by being linked to Kurt Cobain at one juncture. She won the hearts of many bespectacled concertgoers with her song, "His Indie World," which played like a litany of heroes within the underground. Yet, she did not earn a full share of respect in that her best-played songs were often covers, and very little of her "new" material was inked by her pen.

Baby Blue shows no change from that formula, as only one track was written solely by Lord. In a world of Britneys and Xtinas, this should not be surprising, but she is a folk voice from Our Indie World, and the dilemma continues to perplex. It's not so much that her hand in creation matters one way or another, but that she offers very slim evidence on this disc that we should hold out for the future. It's doubtful anyone outside of a small circle of die-hards cares to any large degree at this point, and she offers few convincing reasons to seek her out hereafter. In 2004, for Mary Lou Lord, indifference is almost inevitable.

Beginning with "The Wind Blew All Around Me," Lord's usually endearing paper-thin voice only calls to attention that Victoria Williams is still doing strung-out, waiflike country rock a thousand times better. Slowly paced to the point of virtual rest, it sounds like the theme song to a poorly produced, G-rated teen drama.

"Long Way from Tupelo" and "Because He's Leaving" both attempt to harness the harmonica and piano format that Bruce Springsteen paraded so ably in the 80s. As a result, again we see that the pros do it that much better. In a perfect world, the same backing instrumentation would be used as a setting to a Thunder Road tale, but in absence, Lord's attempt seems, simply, lacking.

Between the Lisa Loeb meets girl-group cheesiness of the title track, the lackluster kiddie sing-along of "Cold Kilburn Rain" and various other unnecessary offerings, the indecisiveness of the album is held in place by one characteristic: its plodding pace. Even the short duration of the tracks weathers poorly, and when not needless or repetitive, the inevitable thud of tedium overwhelms any residual charm left from the 90s. None of the tracks showcase her once-signature pluckiness or jingle-jangle energy. Though the forty-plus year old singer shows her age, she does not know her maturity; she takes up such a sluggish progression, with so little energy, she slows to a halt in several places.

On the single respite provided, a track named "43," she captures the magic of her earlier releases. An Elliott Smith-inspired, harmonious and whispered, and with a jangly, hurried pace that bodes well against the lethargic nature of the rest of the album. This was the song I had expected Mary Lou Lord to make, and as a one-time fan, it was basically the reason I'd clung on so long to the hope of a new full-length. Coming from someone who truly wanted to like the album, this is a disappointment, and shows that her efforts have not aged well. Given the other twelve tracks, a meek cover of Pink Floyd's "Fearless," and this singular moment of solace, I doubt the flame of interest is still flickering for many.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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