Kris Delmhorst


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Like first love (which tends to kick in about the same time), an infatuation with the pop music of one's adolescence never really fades away, even if it becomes somewhat embarrassing in later years. Having passed the age of 40, Kim Delmhorst indulges her youthful affection on an album that might have been called "A Folkie Tribute to the Cars." That's right, Delmhorst was a teenager during the heyday of the new wave band that scored a batch of hits in a decade that stretched from the late '70s to the late ‘80s. (Coincidentally or not, the surviving members of the band reunited in 2011, made a new album, and went on tour.) If no groundswell to induct the Cars into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has emerged since, their music remains infectious pop/rock, and Delmhorst demonstrates that here. For the most part, she sticks to the original arrangements, at least in terms of tempo and overall feel, while substituting acoustic instruments, some of them a little silly sounding. (Cars member Greg Hawkes discreetly sits in on ukulele.) She sings the songs with a certain affectionate humor, unabashedly ignoring the gender implications in some of them; she has no problem, for instance, singing, "She's my best friend's girl, but she used to be mine." She does take occasional liberties, such as casting "Magic" as a ballad and giving "Tonight She Comes" a Celtic feel, with accordion and fiddle. In whatever treatment, she and her backup singers and musicians perform spiritedly, making the album more than just a confession of a guilty pleasure. The Cars' music may still seem like weightless pop, but here it sounds like highly enjoyable weightless pop.

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