Carol Bui – This Is How I Recover (CD)

The simplistic guitar-driven rock of Carol Bui reminds one of Susanne Vega or even Alanis Morrisette; throughout all of this, there is a sound that is Bui’s and Bui’s alone. The earthy guitar work present on a track like “This Is How I Recover” draws listeners back to the days of Sebadoh, even as the arrangement of Bui’s seems much more influenced by medieval music than anything. Where carol Bui moves beyond other artists like Leah Zicari and the rest of that ilk is that there is actually musical arrangements that individuals want to hear on “This Is How I Recover”.

Too many singer-songwriters try to come forth in the American Idol-type of sound (Carrie Underwood) without really creating a full package that individuals would actually want to hear. Bui puts on equal footing eir band, and it is this consideration that puts “This Is How I Recover” along Liz Phair instead of Michelle Branch. There are even tracks on “This Is How I Recover” that are primarily instrument-heavy tracks, the most noticeable of which being “Untitled #2”. “Untitled #2” only uses Bui’s voice a few times throughout the track, really opting to have the guitars put forth the emotional content through their Appleseed Cast-like arrangements on the track.

When the two parts of this album separate (the vocal and the instrumental), the magic begins. On “Hyphen American”, the chaos of the instrumentation influences Bui’s voice in a very interesting way. This is done by essentially putting a light on the vocals, in order to make bizarre shadows that are not necessarily in the actual body. This “deep” sound works at odds with a very pop-laden sound, making “Hyphen American” a track for everybody. The disc is short – thirty-four minutes – but Bui crafts tracks that stretch out time and existence itself until that point when the disc ends and the listener is changed. This is traditional guitar-lead indie rock, but during tracks like the aforementioned “Hyphen American”, a flute comes in and makes a world of difference. The tension of being a current artist and having most of the songs on “This Is How I Recover” tied in heavily with a style that seems much older really pushes Bui and the rest of eir band to the next level. Sure, there are hints of the eighties and nineties here, but the music on the disc transcends any time period of pigeonhole-ready genre.

Top Tracks: Hyphen American, Untitled #2

Rating: 6.0/10

Carol Bui – This Is How I Recover / 2006 Drunken Butterfly Records / 10 Tracks / http://www.carolbui.com / http://www.myspace.com/carolbui / Reviewed 28 January 2006

[JMcQ]

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