Karen Abrams

Everything Is Older

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By titling her debut album Everything Is Older, Karen Abrams is really singing about what it's like to be younger than most. A UCLA psych graduate, Abrams is interested in investigating that major subject of young adults, love, from many angles, most of them having to do with its impact on a woman's sense of self. "When I look back a ways," she sings in the opening track, "She's in Love," "I watch a girl replay/The same game every time/Hit, run, blame, and cry." In that sense, she longs for an ability to resist the pull of romance and its devastating impact on independence. "Freedom -- take me," goes the chorus of "Freedom," "Keep me sane through the wanting/And then maybe/I'll find my vision." Abrams' vision, however, keeps coming back to the same conundrum, and she keeps trying to reassure herself, either that it's okay to fall or okay to abstain. She expresses these feelings in a murmuring alto over folk-rock arrangements dominated by producer/guitarist Zak Schaffer, who gives her attractive musical contexts for her alternately frustrated and satisfied feelings. By the end, in the charmingly simple folk melody of "Breathing," she concludes in post-breakup mode, inviting her ex to "Drop me a line/'Cause I'm breathing myself." Everything Is Older is not a stunning debut, but it is a thoughtful and sturdy one from a singer/songwriter knowingly encountering the commonest of emotional experiences and trying to describe them in a new way.

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