Amanda Palmer has never shied away from the theatrical, but Evelyn Evelyn, her project with experimental musician Jason Webley, is among her most conceptual -- and entertaining -- music. The story of conjoined twin orphans Eva and Lyn, who share three legs, two arms, two hearts, three lungs, a liver, and a melodramatic life, Evelyn Evelyn is equal parts rock opera, radio play, cabaret drama, old-timey mischief, and self-aware performance art. The twins’ tale is a riveting one (so much so that it spawned an accompanying graphic novel), filled with unfortunate twists of fate, seedy proprietors, and disappearing benefactors. Palmer and Webley craft a world fraught with doubles and dualities, from the Twix bar with which the girls are lured into a seedy home for girls who cater to adults with “unique” tastes, to the two-headed elephant Eva and Lyn care for during their time at Dillard and Fullerton’s Traveling Circus. Musically, Evelyn Evelyn spans the whimsy of “Elephant Elephant” and “Have You Seen My Sister Evelyn?,” which gives the Ditty Bops a three-legged run for their money, to the self-aware hucksterism of “A Campaign of Shock and Awe,” which touts Evelyn Evelyn’s music as it name-checks Spin, The New Yorker, and Pitchfork. Though narrative tracks like “The Tragic Events of September, Pt. 1” keep the story moving, some of the album’s best songs take tangents. “You Only Want Me ‘Cause You Want My Sister” uses Evelyn Evelyn’s unique situation to tap into the vulnerability everyone feels in a relationship; “My Space” sets the desires to be alone and friends with everyone to a new wave-tinged power ballad that nods to the theme from Cheers. Always clever and sometimes much more than that, Evelyn Evelyn uses its high-concept nature not just to tell a cracking tale, but to get to deeper truths in a fresh way.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares