Embracing the Carter Family's Appalachian world of dread and Nick Drake's tragic mysticism, Vancouver's Be Good Tanyas have conjured a set of severe, captivating ruminations on life, love, and loss by way of Chinatown. The satisfying follow-up to their promising 2001 debut, Blue Horse, the primarily acoustic folk album achieves its drama from its exquisite, guitar-based arrangements: the gut-string solos and the forlorn harmonica that rise up out of the mix in the dark, desperate "Waiting to Die," the sly touches of country in the fiddle solo on "Reuben," and the discreet banjo licks of "Rowdy Blues." Chinatown is not, however, a full-on folk album; it's also informed by blues and even jazz -- check the haunting Miles-like trumpet floating through "Junkie Song," a chilling meditation about Vancouver's burgeoning heroin scene. One of the singers, Frazey Ford, sounds a bit like the young Joni Mitchell, with a soft, languid voice and idiosyncratic phrasing; Trish Klein shows off an upper register with a keening tone and rich vibrato not unlike the young Dolly Parton's; and Samantha Parton (no relation) sings with the breathy tenderness of the aforementioned Drake. There's a lot of life unspooling in these songs, not all of it pretty but all of it honest and honestly rendered. What's more, in the heartbreaking harmonies and winsome instrumental lines of "Dogsong 2," the Be Good Tanyas achieve a transcendent calm as they lament the death of a beloved pet. You have to go back to the Byrds' "Old Blue" or Elvis's take on Red Foley's "Old Shep" to find a dog song rendered with such deep affection and genuine emotion. That's some deep stuff.
Chinatown 4 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
I had some friends from the office over this weekend and we really had a blast listening to this one. I work at an office supply outlet and most of the time we are all really bored at work, so we decided to cut loose and have a party! I made out with 3 chicks from the office and stole money out of this guy Jeff's jacket! He's a real prick to work with, so I didn't feel bad about it. Call it a party donation. This cd kept us rockin' all night, though! We were doing the mambo and the hussle to 4 in the morn! I got big-time sick the next day, though. I had a splitting headache and high pressure diarrhea through the evening. I can't wait until this summer when the band comes around on tour. Most of us from the office will definitely go see them!