It's been nearly 20 years since Johnny Indovina first began singing and performing in public, and he still leads Human Drama with pride and passion, as Cause and Effect demonstrates. Coming off a series of Indovina-related releases such as the live solo compilation and the Memory Burn collaboration, this album, released as a mail-order effort, is very much a Human Drama release in spirit through and through, right down to including some cover versions. This time out, regular source of inspiration Leonard Cohen, who is acknowledged with a closing version of his mid-'80s song "Dance Me to the End of Love," shares space with Emmylou Harris' tribute to her father, "Bang the Drum Slowly." In both cases, Indovina does a great job, as expected, in bringing out the potential depths of both pieces, with a full-band sound on the latter song and a close, tender sway on the former. As for his originals, Indovina is again in fine form with both his trademark close-to-the-bone lyrical style and his warm, often-beautiful voice. With a core group of four backing him up, including now-established regular keyboardist Mark Balderas, along with nearly 20 guest performers, Indovina and producer Chris Lizote move even more strongly away from any goth rock tag to a more unique, involving hybrid. The gentle R&B and funk of "Look at Me Now," the rougher groove of "Goodnight Sweetheart," and the downbeat, steadily paced "The Mystery" all get spiked with strong string arrangements courtesy of Indovina, as does pretty much the whole album. Songs like the broken-heart epic "Imitation Of" and "Cynthia's Journal" are definite classics from a songwriter who hasn't stopped creating strong, involving work.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett