There is a certain kind of tuneful folk-pop music that would be hard to criticize if one were to be fair, but that in 2011, with all the factors fully considered and summed up, also lands on the musical palate with a bit of a fssssss. A nice voice, an acoustic guitar, a sturdy verse ‘n’ chorus kind of songwriting, a gentle examination of personal foibles or relationships or culture: you know this kind of music if you’re over 30, and you probably love some of it. Or plenty of it. Because there is such a plenty of it.
Now, just because Joni Mitchell’s Blue exists does not mean that Edie Brickell shouldn’t make some more music. But here’s the thing: you are excused if even the high quality tunesmithing and breezy/breathy vocals of her two new discs don’t move you. You get a pass if you aren’t paying close attention to her twin releases on her own label, one eponymous and one with the Gaddabouts, which is led by drummer Steve Gadd and features Brickell and her tunes. This is, after all, a whole lot of folk-rock to absorb in one sitting.
Edie Brickell: Edie Brickell / The Gaddabouts: The Gaddabouts HERE.
Edie Brickell is a smoother, more consistent disc, with an even band sound throughout—one that often leans back on the sturdy piano-pop of Elton John or, more recently, Bruce Hornsby. The Gaddabouts refers to a wider range of different styles, and at its best it places Brickell's bluesy, slightly lazy voice into a swinging jazz area that is very strong. Ronnie Cuber solos on baritone sax, and these tunes sound remarkably fresh.
Good music—well-crafted and well-written and fine indeed. But just a touch of a snooze in 2011.