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 Buiâ€™s and Buiâ€™s alone. The earthy guitar work present on a track like â€œThis Is How I Recoverâ€ draws listeners back to the days of Sebadoh, even as the arrangement of Buiâ€™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 â€œThis Is How I Recoverâ€.
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 â€œThis Is How I Recoverâ€ along Liz Phair instead of Michelle Branch. There are even tracks on â€œThis Is How I Recoverâ€ that are primarily instrument-heavy tracks, the most noticeable of which being â€œUntitled #2â€. â€œUntitled #2â€ only uses Buiâ€™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 â€œHyphen Americanâ€, the chaos of the instrumentation influences Buiâ€™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 â€œdeepâ€ sound works at odds with a very pop-laden sound, making â€œHyphen Americanâ€ a track for everybody. The disc is short â€“ thirty-four minutes â€“ 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 â€œHyphen Americanâ€, a flute comes in and makes a world of difference. The tension of being a current artist and having most of the songs on â€œThis Is How I Recoverâ€ 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
Carol Bui â€“ This Is How I Recover / 2006 Drunken Butterfly Records / 10 Tracks / http://www.carolbui.com / http://www.myspace.com/carolbui / Reviewed 28 January 2006