'Em Are I

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - K. Ross Hoffman
The bandaged-head cover cartoon and cutesy title wordplay of Jeffrey Lewis' fifth album provide a decent indication, for the uninitiated, of the N.Y.C. songwriter/illustrator's goofiness and droll wit, qualities that are evident in many of the songs contained within. But they also hint, cleverly and somewhat obliquely, at the album's surprisingly weighty subject matter: though not specifically medical in focus, most of these songs are concerned with death, existential pain, and the otherwise more corporeal aspects of the human experience. Actually, "concerned" may be the wrong word -- far from morbid, Lewis often sounds insouciant and practically gleeful in his ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - K. Ross Hoffman
The bandaged-head cover cartoon and cutesy title wordplay of Jeffrey Lewis' fifth album provide a decent indication, for the uninitiated, of the N.Y.C. songwriter/illustrator's goofiness and droll wit, qualities that are evident in many of the songs contained within. But they also hint, cleverly and somewhat obliquely, at the album's surprisingly weighty subject matter: though not specifically medical in focus, most of these songs are concerned with death, existential pain, and the otherwise more corporeal aspects of the human experience. Actually, "concerned" may be the wrong word -- far from morbid, Lewis often sounds insouciant and practically gleeful in his perspectives on mortality, especially on the screwy bluegrass stomper "Whistle Past the Graveyard" and the jaunty "Good Old Pig, Gone to Avalon," a fond eulogy to a beloved porker (with some suitably unhinged soloing courtesy of J Mascis). The tone-setting two-chord talking blues "If Life Exists(?)" and the wistful "To Be Objectified," with its hippie-dippie philosophizing, are more pensive and brooding, but they maintain a generous and optimistic outlook, with Lewis' affably nasal delivery dotted with jokey self-reference and the occasional groan-worthy one-liner. Best of all is "Bugs and Flowers," a mellow ramble that finds Lewis out walking along the tracks, ruminating on growth, decay, and universal oneness, in a touchingly quirky and unaffected fashion. It's not all mortality and metaphysics: "Roll Bus Roll" is a sweet if world-weary ode to bus travel; scrappy opener "Slogans" offers a series of motivational affirmations, more or less literalizing the album's titular pun along the way ("Everyone you meet is you/Divided by what they've been through"); and the self-castigating "Broken Broken Broken Heart" is an endearingly honest take on good old-fashioned lovesickness (complete with a bouncy singalong chorus). All of these are very good tunes, but it's the heartfelt content at the album's thematic core that makes 'Em Are I not just Lewis' most consistent album, but also his most truly affecting and easily his most successful outing to date. Props are due to the Junkyard (Lewis' brother Jack and drummer David Beauchamp, making their debut here under that moniker) and the assorted guest players and singers, for helping to make it his most musically satisfying as well, with a nice range of rock, folk, and country stylings, even if the album's cohesiveness is somewhat marred by Jack's songwriting contribution, the incongruously hard-edged, fuzzed-out, and fairly tedious "The Upside-Down Cross."
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/19/2009
  • Label: Rough Trade Us
  • UPC: 883870051422
  • Catalog Number: 514
  • Sales rank: 351,097

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard Primary Artist
Jeffrey Lewis Indexed Contributor, Keyboards, Vocals
Jack Lewis Keyboards, Vocals
J Mascis Guitar
Herman Düne Percussion, Electric Guitar, Ukulele
Spencer Chakedis Mandolin, Slide Guitar
John Kessel Bass, Drums
David-Ivar Herman Düne Ukulele
Simon Beins Trumpet
Néman Herman Dune Percussion
Jack Lewis Bass, Keyboards, Vocals, Group Member
David Beauchamp Drums, Group Member
John Kessel Drums
Helen Schreiner Keyboards, Vocals
Emily Lacy Banjo, Vocals
Nate Brown Keyboards
Technical Credits
Jack Lewis Composer
Paul Gold Mastering
Jeffrey Lewis Composer
Mark Ospovat Engineer
Jack Lewis Composer
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