Edith Frost
It’s A Game
Drag City
2005
B+



alt.country’s just another word for music that you’ll never hear on the radio. Which isn’t so much of a problem with Edith Frost: her music is one that would almost seem profane to play anywhere outside of the privacy of headphones and the cover of night. This wasn’t the case with her previous two albums, though. The increasing bold production on the ornate Wonder Wonder and the psychedelic tinged Telescopic takes a backseat to the stripped down keys and guitar instrumentation of It’s A Game.

In fact, the most elaborate songs on the album, “A Mirage,” features pedal-steel, guitar, and what sounds like an organ. For those minimalists in the crowd, it’s one of the best songs on show—it being a sing-songy elegy to the mirage of true love that “only existed in [her] mind.” As might be expected from Frost, it’s not the only song to deal with the unhappier side of relationships. In fact, most songs here detail the various moments of a break-up although this could hardly be called a proper “break-up album,” because, after all, “everyone knows it’s a game.”

That being said, Frost makes breaking up sound so mournfully beautifully that you might want to try it out yourself, just to get in the mood. “My Lover Won’t Call” is a smoky torch song about finally unplugging the phone and moving on, “If It Weren’t For The Words” is a song hinged the urgent delivery of its title, and “Playmate” is a short and gorgeous plea for a rebound relationship. And the beat goes on: of the album’s thirteen songs, it rarely seems like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel beside hope.

Which might help explain the comparisons to Cat Power and Scout Niblett that rarely touch on anything besides the surface. Frost here instead reminds much more of artists like Will Oldham (more electric and often sparer) or PJ Harvey (again, less rocking and, as a result, often more controlled). The fact that she sells much less than any of the artists mentioned is nearly criminal.

But it’s also to be expected. Toiling away at a catalogue of songs that now reaches deeply into her psyche, whether they’re particularly personal or not, Frost has long been the talented older sister to the vocal and musical shenanigans of her wacky, untamed younger counterparts. I don’t know about you, but I could do with a little more coherency, tact, and quality every once in a while. Even if it takes a four year wait.

Buy it at Insound!


Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2005-11-18
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