*** Sarah Dougher
THE WALLS ABLAZE
The world spins on a
perpetually uncertain axis in Sarah Dougher's universe. Friendships wax and
wane; conflict between lovers goes unresolved; connections are severed by
distance and demons that transform their hosts into strangers.
Building on the themes of addiction, denial, and recovery she first explored on
Day One, her '99 solo debut, Dougher -- who also plays organ with the
Crabs and Cadallaca (the latter of which she founded with Sleater-Kinney's
Corin Tucker) -- again investigates the often painful divide that resides
between the lines of what people say to each other. Or, as in the case of the
subject who's locked in an emotional prison ("The Old Way"), what they tell
themselves. With a direct, guilelessly expressive voice and a compact melodic
disposition that closely resembles Liz Phair's way with pungent mini-drama,
Dougher places her lean, fitful narratives in a spare musical setting that's
well suited to conjuring a sustained mood of prickly, post-punk restlessness.
Issued by the Durham label that's also home to feminist punks Le Tigre and the
Butchies, Walls is the kind of sinewy, Matadorian indie pop we haven't
heard in a while. In fact, if you didn't know that was guitarist Jon Reuter and
Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss supplying the chunky riffs and rhythm on
"The Scales," you'd swear Brad Wood was on the premises.
-- Jonathan Perry