[Sidebar] The Worcester Phoenix
July 28 - August 4, 2000

[Music Reviews]

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*** Sarah Dougher


(Mr. Lady)

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
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