Jonatha Brooke channels her inner Todd Rundgren in an effort that’s worlds removed from her folksinger roots, though her busker humor is always in evidence.
“I was so naïve,” she chuckles on the title track (and album opener), plucking out a distracted guitar progression, before shifting to dense, majestic pop. It’s a record that reveals more texture with each listen.
Brooke made the smart choice to call on producer Bob Clearmountain, who worked with her on “10 Cent Wings” and “Steady Pull.” Traces of the soundboard wizard’s work with Simple Minds and Aimee Mann are in evidence, particularly on “Forgiven,” which alternately crunches and caresses the listener.
“Keep The River on Your Right,” co-written with Nick Lachey, smolders with soul, while the wordplay-rich “Hearsay” (“there’s hearsay/then there’s hearing you say that she’s leaving”) is the record’s highlight.
Brooke hasn’t completely forsaken the calliope folk-pop she did with the Story. “Never Too Late For Love” and “After The Tears” are good examples. But with “I’ll Leave The Light On,” she only nibbles at the edges of that early sound; as with “”Baby Wait,” she wraps spare pieces in full-bodied rhythm.
When she sings with a sneer, “tell me the story again/the one where I find my way home in the end,” on “Prodigal Daughter,” it’s clear that while there may be echoes of the past, for Brooke there’s no looking back.
That’s a good thing; the buffed and muscular “Careful What You Wish For” is Jonatha Brooke’s “Something/Anything?” – and one of the year’s best.