Lizzie West

I Pledge Allegiance to Myself

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Lizzie West wins points before the music even starts by including a sepia photo of a screaming child on the cover and penning a provocative title, I Pledge Allegiance to Myself. Obviously, she has something to say. For anyone who fails to look at the cover or notice the title, West segues from the slow groove of "God Damn That Man," a song about a no-good cheating man, to the funkier "Rope Me in and Smoke Me," a protest song against seducers who move too slow. West has a likable though unusual vocal style, sort of a folkier version of Natalie Merchant; and, as with Merchant, a listener will begin perusing the lyrics in the liner notes from time to time. The title track marries a rather bizarre version of "America the Beautiful" with a self-pledge that will, more than likely, never earn her a gig at a Fourth of July celebration. Some of the coolest things about this album are the varied folk-based arrangements. West runs the gauntlet between reggae, soul, and folk, cutting a wide swath, but her voice, songs, and the fairly spare instrumental groupings give I Pledge Allegiance to Myself an easy flow. The latter part of the album fails to match the innovativeness of the first few songs, but anyone who remembers the '70s will want to stick around for covers of "Get Up, Stand Up" and "City of New Orleans."

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