Indigo Girls

Become You

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Indigo Girls' eighth studio album, released 15 years after their first, finds the duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers in a sense starting over. Using their regular backup band of keyboardist Carol Isaacs, bassist Claire Kenny, and drummer Brady Blade, but only a couple of guest musicians -- in contrast to albums that featured lots more players, many of them well known -- and returning to producer Peter Collins, who worked with them on their second, fourth, and fifth albums, they have stripped down their approach to something approaching the folk-rock style with which they began. The restrained instrumentation and arrangements focus attention on the songs themselves, and Ray and Saliers, as usual writing separately and alternating tracks, have similar things to say. Eleven of the 12 songs are addressed by an "I" to a "you" (the exception, "She's Saving Me," might as well be), and for the most part they deal in romantic complications, with the "I" looking back on a past romance or detailing the difficulties that may lead to a breakup. In the opening track and first single, Ray's "Moment of Forgiveness," for example, the narrator notes that two years have gone by since her lover left and asks, hopelessly, "When are you gonna come home?" Ray is characteristically more raw in her singing and in her expression; she also provides the album's musical contrasts, whether it's the "Games People Play"-style Southern soul of "Moment of Forgiveness" or the Mexican tone of "Nuevas Senoritas." Saliers is more abstract, titling one of her laments "Deconstruction" and, in "She's Saving Me," even offers a more positive statement. But it is Ray's title track, in which a daughter of the South confronts the region's reprehensible mythology -- not a song of romance -- that is the album's most wrenching and powerful statement.

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