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July 7 - 14, 2000

[Music Reviews]

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* The Scoldees


(Off Hour Rockers)

Overwhelming sincerity without a trace of irony, especially in folk music, can be fatal. A case in point is Long Island's scoldees, who lack the humor-leavened bite of fellow folkies the Nields and Dar Williams. The disc's bland opening track, "Silly Girl," plots the course, with lead singer Nancy Sirianni's thin, Alanis-esque vocal amid a blurry backdrop of overproduced folk rock singing, "There's so much that I cannot say and I tell you all the time." On "Dragonfly," Jack Hoffmann channels John Mellencamp's husky vocals: "We used to look to the colors of the sky and watch them fade right into night/Now all these colors have become that memory and they've faded far from sight."

The one hope for the scoldees lies in the title track, where humor saves the sentiments and the production is toned down enough to let individual instrumental details shine through -- the jazzy acoustic strumming of Hoffmann and Sirianni, Randy Kantor's piano obbligatos, even a touch of scat vocal. A humble take on songwriting, the piece gives us a glimpse of what we've been missing -- the clever levity of a likable group of people who seem to have a great time when they're not making dull music.

-- David Brusie

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