Songs for Emma

Red Lies, Black Rhymes

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Ever wonder what would happen if Bruce Springsteen had ditched his acoustic demos of the songs that became the Nebraska album, but instead of re-recording them with the E Street Band, hooked up with a young and hungry political punk band along the lines of the early Red Rockers? The results might have been something like the second and final album by San Francisco's Songs for Emma. Angrier and harder-edged than their debut, 11-12-98 (which had an admirably unfashionable Neil Young & Crazy Horse vibe), the 14 brief polemics on this album are delivered in Tommy Strange's hoarse bark of a voice over old-school '70s-style British punk tunes in the Stiff Little Fingers/Alternative TV mold. It's less unique than the endlessly fascinating 11-12-98, but it's a much more immediate and bracing album. Unfortunately, Songs for Emma broke up shortly after its release.

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