Uncle Bonsai

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Apology Review

by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Uncle Bonsai formed in 1981, developed a following in Seattle, and recorded several albums before breaking up in 1989. Andrew Ratshin, Arni Adler, and Ashley O'Keeffe came together 11 years later to offer a live dose of their tight and soaring harmonies. "Doug's Divorce" is a tender, sad song with a lovely delivery. Doug's wife, who narrates the song, isn't bitter. In fact, she has nothing bad to say about Doug; she's only leaving him because they never really fit together. "Doug's Divorce: Part 2 (Doug and the TV)" takes a more humorous approach to disunion, blaming the failures of their relationship on his voracious TV watching. The humorously inspired "Where's the Milk" seems to boil all of a relationship's problems down to forgetting to bring the milk home, and "I Awoke in Iowa" is a wry tribute to endless farmland. There are also good versions of "Just One Angel" and "I Owe You an Apology." It would have been nice to have all the printed lyrics, because understanding Ratshin's clever and dense words is part and parcel to understanding Uncle Bonsai. Still, many of these songs will be familiar to fans, and the lyrics are available at the Yellow Tail website. There's a wonderful dynamic among these three singers, calling to mind other humorous, harmony-centered groups like the Roches and Four Bitchin' Babes. Despite the album's title, the band has nothing to apologize for. This is a fine reunion album, and the band seems to thrive in a live setting. Apology will please fans and impress anyone who appreciates great harmony.

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