Musically, Adam Green is a strict classicist, a pop craftsman par excellence. He seems to be a very keen and very gifted student of pop music's vast and intricate rule book. Thus his music is not especially original in any way, though often sophisticated, tuneful, and clever. On Gemstones, the third and best of his solo albums, Green seems to have perfected his art. Some of the tracks here rank among the finest pop songs that are made these days. These tunes all have something in common: almost every one of them lasts for about two minutes, stripping away every possibly unnecessary part. They are also all pretty much arranged the same way: just acoustic guitar, bass, electric piano, and some tastefully arranged strings here and there. Green and his excellent backing band makes the most of that simple lineup on every track. Then, of course, there are the lyrics. Green sings the darndest things. Who else could write a great stomping cabaret-pop number with all clean and fun lyrics except for that one crucial line (and song title!) "Choke on a Cock"? This penchant of his for extremely obscene and downright childish lyrics can surely turn people off, but it seems to be an integral part of his artist persona. You do remember the Moldy Peaches, don't you? The contrast between his lyrical style and his voice sure is puzzling at times. How can this deep, warm, resonant, and utterly believable voice sing such poppycock? All that aside, just listen to the songs and be charmed. There's the wonderfully melancholic ballads such as "Losing on a Tuesday" and "Before My Bedtime," where he sounds like a dead ringer for Scott Walker. There's the catchy and fun, almost '50s-styled rock & roll such as single "Emily," while "Carolina" is another slice of wonderful cabaret pop, and on "Over the Sunrise" he suddenly goes all Jim Morrison on you. In other words, there's something for everyone here. In fact, all 15 tracks have strong musical qualities. An unusually strong, well-produced album of classic songwriting.
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AllMusic Review by Anders Kaasen