S.F. Seals

Truth Walks in Sleepy Shadows

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The second and final album by S.F. Seals is really a Barbara Manning solo album in all but name. Although the group started as a collaboration between Manning and drummer/vocalist Melanie Clarin, Clarin is reduced to a supporting role here, with no solo songwriting credits of her own and only one lead vocal, on the brooding Manning composition "Bold Letters." Manning dominates the album, singing all the other leads and writing the majority of the tracks. It's probably Manning's darkest record, with rich and varied arrangements that add trumpet, vibes, strings, even calliope (on the swirling "Kid's Pirate Ship") to the acoustic guitar-based songs, and lyrics heavy on the disturbing metaphors, from the stomach-churning (literally) "Ipecac" to the downright masochistic "Pulp." Manning's usual excellent taste in covers remains, as the album is bracketed by versions of the Pretty Things' "SF Sorrow Is Born" and John Cale's "Soul of Patrick Lee," with an unexpected but brilliant cover of Faust's "Flashback Caruso" as the album's centerpiece.

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