Finely aged Indigo: the Indigo Girls return to their vintage sound--while keeping it fresh--on their terrific new CD.
The musical tastemakers have never known quite what to make of the Indigo Girls, unapologetically gay women with unyielding idealism and an imperviousness to fashion and musical trends. As forerunners of third-wave American folk music, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers now bear many battle scars from their runins with pop culture in the 20 year's they've been performing.
Even so, with a sugar-and-salt song-writing balance, complex harmonies, and scraped-bare lyrics buoyed by high-cresting melody, the Atlanta-bred pair have always managed to maintain a sizeable group of devotees, among them feminists, lefties, and queers of every stripe. Those who have followed the Girls from the beginning will note that All That We Let In, their ninth studio effort, harkens back to vintage Indigo Girls, a return to the painstaking "dueling harmonies" and alluring pop-folk that the act had abandoned for the amped-up sound of the last few records.
That's not to say that Let In is a retread or a hairy armpit sing-along; the Girls and their band seem refreshed, almost impromptu, within the blithe mood of this disk. Ray's writing in particular throws us some twists. "Heartache for Everyone" is one, a mouthwatering Clash-inspired ska ditty about the tangled emotions and sexual tension between a hetero couple and a female free agent. Ray follows this doomed equation with another one, "Dairy Queen," possibly the most dignified breakup song ever. "The love you gave was not for free, but the price was truly fair," she sings, her tortured assessment half obscured by frolicsome, meaty guitar chords.
The heart and soul of All That We Let In is revealed in a few choice words by Saliers in the rousing "Rise Up," the CD's closing cut. Amid high-rolling pirate notes, halfway between Carole King and Elton John, Saliers sings, "Rise up your dead, there's life in the old girl yet." It's a battle cry for women of a certain age and for the tired citizens who take on injustice. It's an admonition to a music world that would ever dare to file her in the has-been cutout bin. What a defining missive to crown this disk, the act's final contractual release for major label Epic. It's "back on the bus, y'all," as the Girls are fond of saying, but it's anybody's guess as to where they'll take us next.
Tucker has also written for the New York Press and Time Out New York.
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|Author:||Tucker, Karen Iris|
|Publication:||The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)|
|Date:||Mar 30, 2004|
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