no denying Yamagata's influences, and no, they're not just Carole
King and Roberta Flack. "Letter Read" and "Under
My Skin" sound dead-on like they were lifted directly from
an early Fiona Apple CD, complete with the tangle-finger piano-chords-to-minor
arrangements. Or, to say the least, the exact same slurry, cooing
vocal style. Yamagata should have left them off the CD, or considered
putting them at the end because anyone who takes one listen to these
tracks will scream "fake!" It's obvious to the point of
robbery, and unfortunate when you consider that the rest of the
album is much more genuine.
Yamagata likes her FM
melodies big and souring (who doesn't when they're done this well?)
and personifies them with the exactitude of someone who grew up
listening to Southern California hits circa 1975. The upbeat numbers
scream "adult contemporary" louder than anything by Grammy
lover Norah Jones. And her slight blues cleverness out-trumps the
static (and boring) Beth Orton. Her knack for finding interesting
melodies within melodies makes her more interesting than Sarah McLachlan
will ever be.
You could argue that
this was produced as slickly as a car commercial, and you'd be right
(and it's a credit to Yamagata that none of this stuff has been
used to sell Chryslers), but isn't that the whole point to this
sort of music, to at least try to create a perfect, cloud-free moment?
And that's exactly what Yamagata does, on tracks like "I'll
Find a Way" that, when/if it ever gets discovered, will become
the ultimate senior prom song.
Posted May 7,
2005. Copyright © 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
likes her FM melodies big and souring (who doesn't when they're
done this well?) and personifies them with exactitude of someone
who grew up listening to Southern California hits circa 1975."