Did you say this was Lou Barlow's first ever solo album? What gives? Barlow's been the dominant force in everything he's done since exiting Dinosaur Jr. at the end of the '80s, including bushels of four-track home recordings as Sentridoh and variants thereof. He's been touted as the king of lo-fi ever since the hissy bedroom opuses compiled on 1990's revelatory The Freed Weed (before Sebadoh turned into a rock band and the Folk Implosion hit the Top 40), but Emoh really is Barlow's first traditional solo effort. Emoh paints Barlow's intensely personal explorations in vivid colors with sharp edges, as opposed to the blurred lines and sepia tones of the rest of his charmingly obtuse, limited-run solo output. Ever present is the confusion and insecurity that he has so overtly explored over the years, but the older, wiser Barlow shows the confidence and optimism of middle age to balance things out. "HOME" (Emoh backward!) is the standout, with classic Lou-isms about hiding behind a sweater and "once impressed, half undressed all day," cleverly adorned by an ornate cello meshing with a clippety-clap percussion sound that conjures past lo-fi genius. The whole affair is rock-solid and down-to-earth to the delight of fans who were put off by the glossy later Folk Implosions efforts. Barlow even gets his heart broken by the Virgin on "Mary," spiritual sequel to the Barlow standard "Jealous of Jesus," pulled off with the humor, insight and heart-wrenching conviction that is 100 percent Lou Barlow and nobody else.
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