Tasmin Archer

Bloom

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Tasmin Archer's second album (third if you count Shipbuilding, a lengthy EP marrying four exquisite Elvis Costello covers with three mediocre live tracks) is a huge step up from her promising but tentative solo debut, 1994's Great Expectations. That album suffered from the ministrations of too many producers, all of them seemingly with their own musical agendas and their eyes on the adult contemporary charts. In comparison, Bloom was produced by Mitchell Froom, whose sympathetic production brings out the more idiosyncratic elements of Archer's songwriting (as before, she co-wrote all of the tracks, mostly with guitarist John Hughes) and who quite wisely puts the focus squarely on Archer's richly expressive voice. The resulting tracks could be compared to Sarah McLachlan or possibly Froom's then-wife Suzanne Vega, with the single "One More Good Night Out with the Boys" clearly aimed at the same demographic that had made Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do" a hit. Archer's sweetly introspective lyrics and mildly quirky melodic sense, however, keep Bloom from sounding like just more AAA radio fodder.

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