The dark, smoky voice of Patricia Barber is quite haunting. On Modern Cool, she mostly sings downbeat songs at slow tempos. All but three songs are her own originals, and they deal with such subject matter as a "homage to beauty" that seems to connect painting one's face with prostitution, loneliness, mindless conformity, the "postmodern blues" and other depressing topics. Even her treatments of "You and the Night and the Music" and "Light My Fire" make one think that she is utterly bored with life. Barber, whose piano playing is mostly very much in the background, comes across on this set as a pop/folk singer. Most of the jazz moments are provided by trumpeter Dave Douglas, who is on half of the selections and adds some much-needed excitement; guitarist John McLean, bassist Michael Arnopol, and drummer/percussionist Mark Walker complete the group. This set is definitely for specialized tastes.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow