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Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - Knives Don't Have Your Back Review

Emily Haines' voice is the musical cousin of coloring outside the lines. Haines deserves points for courage (unvarnished melodies and unusual phrasings) and for embracing a delightful burgeoning streak worthy of the moniker "Rebel" (with or without a cause, it's immaterial here). Whatever the label or diagnosis, her talent cannot be ignored. And at first (and understandably) listeners, like new parents who've just been informed of their child's propensity for following the beat of her own drummer (or drum machine), don't quite know if the child should be chastised or applauded for this unusual or non-traditional approach to art. Here's a clue: generally it's far better to encourage rather than bury ANY artist's attempt to share with the world their unique take on life.

And so it should be (if there's any justice in the indie world) with Haines, aka the lead singer for Canada's Metric. Her talent reflects a weird but welcomed dichotomy: Otherworldly ethereal vocals that talk about the very grounded realities of costly long distance phone calls (as in "Crowd Surf Off A Cliff"). And for all her transparency, Haines' recurring theme --- having to cope with loneliness --- is a tough one to swallow. It's simply a stretch to imagine anyone with a magnetic voice that bundles you up like a heavy flannel blanket, warm and soothing from the clothes dryer, ever being lonely. This is one gal whose soft-edged, undeniably unique and witty world view would seem to easily attract friends, lovers and sundry (and lucky) passerbys.

Emily Haines secures her title as Queen of Irony (as if any one currently making noise on the charts has enough of a grasp on this much ballyhooed but largely misunderstood term to actually consider dethroning her) in "Doctor Blind", an insightful (get it? Blind? Insightful? Forget it.) and color-coded prescription against numbing nothingness. Knives Don't Have Your Back is musically and lyrically haunting, sensory heightening, introspective and breezy (you have to really listen, repeatedly, to agree this isn't contradictory). In "The Lottery" ("I only wanted what everyone wanted since bras started burning up ribs in the sixties"), "Nothing & Nowhere" ("Some say we're lost in space, some say we're falling off the page") and, in fact the entire CD, Haines smartly recognizes and respects the essential element of sarcasm, humor and irony: brevity. 'nough said.

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Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - Knives Don't Have Your Back

Label:Last Gang Records

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