A couple of album reviews for Rolling Stone, which appeared in the October 2010 issue.
I Believe You Liar
Charismatic newbie delivers an impressive debut album
Following a string of EP releases, Melbourne-via-Brisbane singer-songwriter Megan Washington delivers an impressive debut album, whose 12 tracks were written and performed by the eponymous singer alongside producer John Castle. On I Believe You Liar, the pair play all the instruments that comprise her heady mix of piano-heavy pop. The star here isn’t just Washington’s impressive vocal range, but the clever wordplay and knowing sense of irony that sees her question whether she makes us hum in “Sunday Best”, and write an entirely danceable chorus around the concept of not wanting to dance (“Rich Kids”). Such additions are cute without bordering on kitsch. While most tracks swing with contagious joy, the album’s handful of slower moments – like the morbid “Underground”, which deals with the singer’s preference for cremation over burial – reveal an introspective bent. Given the singer’s ability to compel with both modest and garish modes of songwriting, Washington’s debut is a consistently enjoyable listen.
Key tracks: “Rich Kids”, “How To Tame Lions”, “Clementine”
Ben Folds/Nick Hornby
Piano tinkler gets together with pop fiction’s poster boy
It’s a music geek’s wet dream: American singer-songwriter Ben Folds collaborating with British novelist Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About A Boy). Here, multi-instrumentalist Folds uses Hornby’s emailed short stories as the lyrical basis for 11 tracks that sparkle with irreverent humour. Take “Levi Johnston’s Blues”: a hilarious character narrative written from the perspective of the “fuckin’ redneck” who knocked up Sarah Palin’s daughter. Folds’ musical vision wheels between the rollicking, piano-led pop for which he’s become known (“Working Day”, “From Above”), and more subdued compositions like “Practical Amanda” and “Password”, which feature stunning string section interjections courtesy of arranger Paul Buckmaster (David Bowie, Elton John). “Your Dogs” – a tale of suburban discontent set to catchy, taut instrumentation – can be counted among the finest moments of Folds’ career. Lonely Avenue is a meeting of two brilliant minds in near-perfect sync. Hopefully, it won’t be the last time they get together.
Key tracks: “Your Dogs”, “Levi Johnston’s Blues”, “From Above”