Em Are I

Em Are I


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further info

Official Release Date May 19, 2009
Artist Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard
Genre Pop
Version  US
PAX-Code PAX0005016292
Item Code  0883870051415

track listing

1. Slogans2. Roll Bus Roll3. If Life Exists4. Broken Broken Broken Heart5. Whistle Past The Graveyard6. To Be Objectified7. The Upside-Down Cross8. Bugs & Flowers9. Good Old Pig, Gone To Avalon10. It's Not Impossible11. Mini- Theme = Moocher From The Future


The bandaged-head cover cartoon and cutesy title wordplay of Jeffrey Lewis' fifth album provide a decent indication, for the uninitiated, of the N.Y.C. songwriter/illustrator's goofiness and droll wit, qualities that are evident in many of the songs contained within. But they also hint, cleverly and somewhat obliquely, at the album's surprisingly weighty subject matter: though not specifically medical in focus, most of these songs are concerned with death, existential pain, and the otherwise more corporeal aspects of the human experience. Actually, "concerned" may be the wrong word -- far from morbid, Lewis often sounds insouciant and practically gleeful in his perspectives on mortality, especially on the screwy bluegrass stomper "Whistle Past the Graveyard" and the jaunty "Good Old Pig, Gone to Avalon," a fond eulogy to a beloved porker (with some suitably unhinged soloing courtesy of J Mascis). The tone-setting two-chord talking blues "If Life Exists(?)" and the wistful "To Be Objectified," with its hippie-dippie philosophizing, are more pensive and brooding, but they maintain a generous and optimistic outlook, with Lewis' affably nasal delivery dotted with jokey self-reference and the occasional groan-worthy one-liner. Best of all is "Bugs and Flowers," a mellow ramble that finds Lewis out walking along the tracks, ruminating on growth, decay, and universal oneness, in a touchingly quirky and unaffected fashion. It's not all mortality and metaphysics: "Roll Bus Roll" is a sweet if world-weary ode to bus travel; scrappy opener "Slogans" offers a series of motivational affirmations, more or less literalizing the album's titular pun along the way ("Everyone you meet is you/Divided by what they've been through"); and the self-castigating "Broken Broken Broken Heart" is an endearingly honest take on good old-fashioned lovesickness (complete with a bouncy singalong chorus). All of these are very good tunes, but it's the heartfelt content at the album's thematic core that makes 'Em Are I not just Lewis' most consistent album, but also his most truly affecting and easily his most successful outing to date. Props are due to the Junkyard (Lewis' brother Jack and drummer David Beauchamp, making their debut here under that moniker) and the assorted guest players and singers, for helping to make it his most musically satisfying as well, with a nice range of rock, folk, and country stylings, even if the album's cohesiveness is somewhat marred by Jack's songwriting contribution, the incongruously hard-edged, fuzzed-out, and fairly tedious "The Upside-Down Cross."


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SN: 223 | 1007 { 58 } | | WS: 1 | | Cat: 2093