Silver Jews

Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (Drag City)

The liner notes to Dave Berman's sixth full length outing with his Silver Jews come complete not only with lyrics but with friggin' guitar chords. It's a strange touch, but an appropriate one, as Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea might be the tightest and most sing-along friendly set he's crafted yet. Hell, "Candy Jail" could almost be mistaken for a Roger Miller song with it's strangely poignant, sweet tooth lyrics ("Life in a candy jail, with peppermint bars/Peanut brittle bunk beds and marshmallow walls/Where the guards are gracious and the grounds are grand/The warden keeps the data on your favorite brands"), while "Strange Victory, Strange Defeat" is an anti-American Idol anthem in the making ("What's with all the handsome grandsons in these rock band magazines?/And what have they done with the fat ones, the bald and the goateed?!"). But it's "Suffering Jukebox" that may be Berman's most classic tune yet, a sad-sack country jam punctuated with a chorus so perfect (sung in lovely contrast by Berman's wife, Cassie) that it's hard to imagine some other Nashville songwriter didn't beat him to it decades ago—"Suffering Jukebox/Such a sad machine/You're all filled up with what other people mean/ And they never seem to turn you up loud/Gotta lotta chatterboxes in this crowd."

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