Amanda Palmer

Who Killed Amanda Palmer? (Roadrunner Records)

In a match made in piano-rock heaven, Dresden Dolls vamp Amanda Palmer teamed with fellow ivory-tickler Ben Folds to produce this strings-and-spinet stunner.

Originally, the singer had planned a low-budget project, showcasing some songs she felt sounded better without Dolls collaborator Brian Viglione's distinctive drumming. And, yes, Palmer's vocal acrobatics, dynamic pianism and incisive songwriting have even more punch in Folds' stripped-down settings. "Ampersand" provides a fresh feminist perspective on being one half of a couple, while "Oasis" tackles date rape and abortion, and "Blake Says" turns Lou Reed's favorite musical trope into a criticism of flaky dudes.

Even on what is probably her most courageously personal and poignant album yet, Palmer's wit, humor and musical mastery make Who Killed a delightful listen.

 
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