Oh, Aimee Mann, not really a better wordsmith in the business in my humble opinion. I have been a big fan since her great solo debut I'm With Stupid and have continued full-on since. Her last effort, a concept album called The Forgotten Arm, elbowed the rest of the competition out to rise as my favorite of all her records.
So, you can imagine the anticipation I had for this new record! Although it has continued to grow on me and is getting fairly high rotation both in the house and in the car, it also left me with this nagging thought: Aimee needs a producer or a muse to shake things up a bit.
Although the opening track, "Freeway," is catchy as heck and the lead single, "31 Today," follows suit, this isn't a bunch of tracks that stand on their own or work together for the greater good of a cohesive recording.
So, basically, you're left with a great talent putting out a good record of good material, but it seems bereft of inspiration and sounds a lot like her other material.
I can't help but think of the grand influence of her days working with Glen Tilbrook and even the collaborations and tours with husband Michael Penn as "Acoustic Vaudeville" with narration by David Cross! It might seem that outside influence suits Aimee just right and the creative output speaks for itself...I'm just sayin!
Don't get me wrong, this record is worth adding to your collection, and maybe for someone new to Mann's work, it might rate a bit higher. And maybe if its release date was closer to the gray doldrums of winter, it might seem more at home. Which is why it's been sort of pushed aside for summer fun music that better reflects the moods and grooves of the season.
Most of all, Aimee Mann deserves kudos for doing it her way, continuing to release records on her own Super Ego label which was trailblazing at a time when most DIY artists were still lost in the woods.