The Good: Good musical variety, Decent lyrics, Good themes
The Bad: Vocals are generally unspectacular, Somewhat musically unbalanced
The Basics: With impressive lyrics and more enjoyable rock and roll music, Come On Now Social still falls short in the vocals and instrumentals, though I'm seeing some growth in Indigo Girls.
When I had my first experience with the Indigo Girls a few days ago with their album Shaming Of The Sun (reviewed here!) I felt so strangely disappointed and disappointed for not liking the album that I assumed the problem must be me and I set out to find another Indigo Girls album to listen to and review as soon as possible. I picked up Come On Now Social, if for no other reason than I liked the title.
I remain underwhelmed by the Indigo Girls tracks I have heard thus far.
With thirteen tracks (there is a hidden track after a few seconds of silence following "Faye Tucker," Come On Now Social clocks in at over fifty-seven minutes and unlike Shaming Of The Sun, this album is more consistently pop-rock and roll with more of a folk feel than country undertones. Come On Now Social presents the Indigo Girls as folk-rock rockers with an emphasis on rock and roll in their instrumentals. For example, "Faye Tucker" has a strong rock presence with electric guitars and articulate drumming.
In fact, the entire album has more of a rock and roll edge to it. Opening with "Go," this album is heavy in up-front guitars and loud drums that don't quit. In addition to the abovementioned tracks, "Gone Again," "Trouble," "Ozilline" and "Cold Beer And Remote Control" take on more straightforward rock and roll sounds, making the album less bluegrass than some previous endeavors.
This album includes backing vocals from Sheryl Crow and Joan Osborne, as well as Me'Shell Ndegocello on bass for a track. The truth is, their presences would have gone unnoticed were it not for the credits in the liner notes. They add nothing so distinctive or noticeable as to call attention to themselves.
The vocals are nothing to get excited about. For example, on "Soon Be To Nothing," as the vocalists (there are five) repeat the line "I'll soon be to nothing but I don't know when . . ." the result is less a harmonization and more a droning. The net effect is a tired repetition that does not emphasize the line or the emotions behind it but rather robs it - and the song - of its impact. Instead, there are many tracks that repeat creating a feeling that the songs are being stretched out. I could not find a single vocal performance on this album that impressed me.
The lyrics are another matter. What Indigo Girls lack in vocal presentation on Come On Now Social, they make up with lyrics that are genuinely wonderful and well written. Emily Saliers wrote a real classic set of verses in "Trouble" when she ironically wrote ". . . send God's sweet children floating down a poison stream / Secret society of conference rooms / I pledge my allegiance to the dollar / And when the clergy take a vote all the gays will pay again . . ." Saliers is socially active and angry as ever (one of the aspects of the group I respect).
Saliers does not quit with one track, either. On "Peace Tonight," Saliers writes one of the most promising refrains in pop-rock music's recent memory with "Let's make peace tonight / The moon is bare and shining bright / Let's make peace tonight in a good time." It's simple, but articulate and that spirit of calm reconciliation is rare in today's music. Saliers presents it well with "Peace Tonight."
This is not to say that co-Indigo Girl Amy Ray does not pull her weight on Come On Now Social. Ray's best lyrical outing comes at the beginning of the album by opening the work with "Go." "Go" may not have impressed me vocally, but it rocks and the lyrics have a high level of diction with such storytelling lines as "Grandma was a suffragette / Blacklisted for her publication / Blacklisted for my generation." It's good an, like the bulk of Saliers' songs on the album, "Go" has a strong social message that I find admirable.
But it's still not enough to recommend. Fine, the Indigo Girls rock on this album through a use of stronger guitars and more forthright vocals. The exchange of genres does not necessarily breed success and while the sound is different for the Indigo Girls, it was not the most unique sound. The folk moments are reminiscent of Joan Baez and Dar Williams, the rock music moments have a flavor fans of Sheryl Crow might enjoy, though I didn't.
Indigo Girls remain on my list because of their strong socially progressive message and I honestly liked the lyrics - I got more out of Come On Now Social by reading the lyrics in the liner notes than listening to the women sing them - but I'm still not impressed by Indigo Girls enough to recommend this album.
The best track is "Peace Tonight," the weak link is "Ozilline."
For other music reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Any Day Now - Joan Baez
Live Acoustic - Sarah McLachlan
MTV Unplugged - 10,000 Maniacs
For other music reviews, please visit my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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