Friday, July 2, 2010

David Byrne: Feelings (1997)

(As published in Real Groove ... )

David Byrne
(Luaka Bop/Warner Bros.)

Coming from anyone else, an album called Feelings would create expectations of a Morris Albert tribute. Coming from David Byrne, it's just a reminder that he's usually gained access to his warmer half by mocking himself for not having one. It isn't that he thinks too much either. It's just that sometimes he sings as if he thinks he does. Sometimes his band plays that way too, conscientiously incorporating the rhythms of Communist countries and fledgling democracies when they should be rocking. That's why the hypnotic vibe of "Amnesia" and the Cuban cha-cha of "Miss America," although they percolate with el ritmo de vida, feel overwrought. Still, Byrne can sound warm. On the rockers "Dance on Vaseline" and "The Civil War," the former Talking Head comes alive from the neck down, and on the loopy "You Don't Know Me," he waxes beguilingly yin-yangish: "I'm the part of you that sings those goofy love songs," he sings, paraphrasing Paul McCartney. "I'm the part of you you can't control." Then, paraphrasing Gary Wright, he sings, "If love is alive, why can't I touch it? There's nothing else like you on my plate." Translation: He simply wants to have his love and eat it too. Why call the next song "Daddy Go Down" otherwise?

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