Trout Fishing in America
It's to the credit of Ezra Idlet and Keith Grimwood that Trout Fishing in America doesn't come off as cutesy shtick, but rather the most natural thing in the world; Reel Life does nothing to upset this. A mix of live and studio cuts, the album presents what has by now become the duo's stock in trade: songs whose warm, fuzzy vibe and sometimes-goofy sense of humor doesn't necessarily rule out a gentle wisdom. There's "The Number of That Truck," an ode to romantic trauma and/or any type of real change; a recasting of Trout Fishing's popular hymn to second thoughts, "The Last Days of Pompeii"; and celebrations of domestic happiness ("Sleepytime Cartoon"). No boundary-jumping going on here, just good, solid maneuvering within an established and wholly owned style. The live cuts, with their between-tune banter, recall your last TFIA show, and by the album's close you're so won over that you can forgive even the pungent joke at the end of "Baby's Got the Car Keys."
The Austin Lounge Lizards
This six-song EP--reprising as it does last year's "Gingrich the Newt" and adding "Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs"--could be the Austin Lounge Lizards' pre-election advisory, fattened up with some live versions of old favorites like "The Car Hank Died In" and a reworking of "Mother of a Honky Tonk Girl." The Lizards' musicianship is sharp enough that there's not that much diff between these live readings and their studio counterparts, and it's therefore hard to find much reason for this trifle--with the possible exceptions of political timeliness, the satisfaction of completists, or an introduction to the band.
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The Gershwin Scrapbook
The Turtle Creek Chorale
Turtle Creek Chorale Records
Inexplicably, Ira Gershwin has never enjoyed the glowing reputation as a lyricist that his brother George has as a composer. After all, Ira's breezy words dance playfully around George's winsome melodies with romantic and comedic abandon, each never obscuring the other's individual genius. The Turtle Creek Chorale's choral version of many Gershwin standards may not seem like the best way to showcase Ira's gifts as a wordsmith--200 voices singing in unison don't dance around the lyrics so much as march to them--but by including solos (the gorgeously sentimental "Embraceable You"), the Chorale treats these pop classics with the respect due old but still-vigorous friends. This album may not make you forget the Broadway cast of Crazy for You, but it maintains the professionalism we expect of the Chorale.
--Arnold Wayne Jones