Brave Combo

Allumettes

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This 1994 Japanese release was another diversion for the esoteric bunch of Texans. Given the atypical nature of their music, a diversion could mean a number of things. On Allumettes they team up with sultry chanteuse Lauren Agnelli (Washington Squares), who handles all of the lead vocals and also contributes as a songwriter. With a combination of originals, torch songs, traditional pop and show tunes flavored by Latin rhythms and French stylings, Allumettes bears a noticeable resemblance to Fairground Attraction's The First of a Million Kisses. Given Brave Combo's history of unbridled wildness and unpredictability, the band excercises admirable restraint in the best interest of this recording. This is more Lauren Agnelli than Brave Combo project, but the group plays the backup role perfectly with its arranging skill and the band members' comprehensive knowledge of offbeat world music forms. The tasteful injection of accordions, tuba, and various woodwinds accents these songs in uncustomarily elegant Brave Combo fashion. However, there are moments of adventure on this recording -- Agnelli's catchy "Serendipity" is a synthesis of ska, Tex-Mex, and tango styles, while Carl Finch's "Take a Deep Breath" is an irresistible neo-alternative pop/rock ditty in the same vein as his finest numbers, "Do Something Different" and "Move." Lerner & Loewe's "I Could Have Danced All Night" is transformed into a sassy and brassy piece with more inherent danceability than the waltzing Eliza Doolittle dreamily reflected upon in My Fair Lady.

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