Kids Fly Free

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Lach's second album, Blang!, was a very tough act to follow. In contrast to Contender -- the New York folk-rocker's uneven debut album of 1990 -- Blang! was a focused, consistent gem that boasted some of his most inspired writing. Thankfully, Lach keeps the creative momentum going on his third full-length album, Kids Fly Free (fourth if you count the compilation Lach's Antihoot: Live From the Fort at Sidewalk Café). The New Yorker, true to form, successfully bridges the gap between Bob Dylan and punk. And once again, he demonstrates that his sense of humor is among his greatest assets. Lach is witty and genuinely clever whether he is singing about health nuts who fall off the wagon ("Smoking Again") or a spoiled woman who is destined to be lonely because she labors under the delusion that no man could possibly be good enough for her ("The Hesitant"). Most of the songs aren't overtly socio-political, but when Lach does get into socio-political territory, the results are excellent. One of the CD's best tracks is the poignant "I Love America (But She Don't Love Me)," which is patriotic but not in a knee-jerk, conformist, unthinking way -- the song is about loving the idea of American democracy but feeling less valued because you're gay, black, or poor. Lach's commentary is very much in favor of the American Dream; all he's saying is that people shouldn't be excluded from it because of their race or sexual orientation. The only song on the album that Lach didn't write is Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," which lends itself quite nicely to a punky anti-folk makeover. Blang! remains Lach's most essential album, but Kids Fly Free runs a close second.

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