By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Paul Slavens, recording here as pslavens, seems to have multiple personalities. In fact, considering all his accomplishments in and around the world of music—frontman of the late great Ten Hands to KXT radio host to on-the-spot composer of comedic improvised songs at various local venues and more—he might have multiple bodies as well. Whatever the case, his wide spectrum of styles works well on Alphabet Girls Volume I, a 14-track catalog of songs, each named for a different female starting with Abigail and ending with the unlisted Naomi.
The jazzy opener "Abigail," with just Slavens and his piano, starts the album out on a wry, witty note, providing something of a thesis statement for the effort ("There have been a hundred girls, a hundred sets of lips / And on my radar of romance, the screen is full of blips.") before careening into a jaunty horndog romp with come-ons like "we could find a quiet place and suck face in the dark."
Clever as the lyrics may be, though, they're mostly limited to how much the singer longs for each of these interchangeable objects of desire, distinguished only by their names—except for Hazel, whose uncomplaining nature and drinking capacity are worthy of a toast. Guest appearances provide welcome variety, including a contribution from fellow Dentonite Robert Gomez, whose acoustic guitar fingerpicking accents one of the album's prettiest and straight-faced songs, "Daisy." And contemplative instrumental tracks like the wistful, delicate, cello-tinged "Marian" are surprisingly nuanced and manage to say more about their subjects than words possibly could.
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