Album Reviews

Lori Carson – The Finest Thing

(One Little Indian) UK release date: 30 January 2006

Have you ever wondered what happens to all those creative writing students who don’t go on to be the new JK Rowling? It always crosses my mind when I see the paint charts in DIY shops. The names that paint firms conjure up are a work of genius – they must employ flocks of jaded writers with no prospects who seem to discover new ways of describing beige or magnolia. If anyone knows one can they let me have their number because I need some help here.

Why? Well, this record is so unengaging, so vapid. Just how many ways can you say bland? The songs are as tasteless and slight as early morning mist on the river Avon. It does nothing and it does it painfully slowly.

Lori Carson has a relatively long career behind her and has a CV that includes composing for both TV and film. That she has penned some of the instrumental music for Dawson’s Creek is not a great surprise, as this is the sound of the inside of Katie Holmes’ head. Fragile acoustic refrains, drifting electronics and a voice that is as fey as a librarian’s picnic.

The material can be divided by those that are purely instrumental/ambient and those that are built around a very vague notion of the song. She Can’t Decide is constructed around an irresolute guitar refrain and slow washes of a saxophone. Carson adds a few ‘la, la, la’ vocals to the mix as the whole track drifts by like static. There is not enough happening to sustain the track for two minutes, let alone the lifetime it takes to end. I find that listening to it my mind has started to wander off: shopping lists, Robert Pires’ goal against ‘Boro, the ironing pile, these all flash through my brain as the music fails to grip me in anyway at all.

On the more conventional Hold On To The Sun, Carson’s airy vocals are moribund by the dirge like chord progression. These are not quiet reveries that the likes of Brian Eno or Boards Of Canada can marshall from swashes of electronic circuits. The structures fall between two approaches and the result is that they do not cover either to any degree of success.

These failures are perfectly demonstrated by The Long Walk. The ambient textures that open the track sound like the ice melting in a faulty fridge. The sound palette lacks the buzz or clank of pure electronica. The guitars and trite wordless vocals keep the song rooted too firmly in the grey realities of the real world. The songs never seem to cut loose from their moorings with any conviction.

The lack of rhythm and the limited array of sounds result in the songs melting into one long piece droning piece. I very nearly got excited 30 seconds into Grey World as it sounded like the beginnings of a drum pattern, but it was just a couple of end bass notes trying to add a little bottom to the mix.

So if you need something to watch your new mink, walnut or gentle fawn paint dry the by all means listen to this. If you have a life then don’t bother.

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Lori Carson – The Finest Thing