While Aimee Mann's solo work has boasted the tape-loop sheen and production smarts of an artist who is most comfortable in the studio, she also happens to be an engaging and expressive live performer, and thankfully Mann has taken the trouble to offer proof of this with this release. Live at St. Ann's Warehouse was recorded during a three-night stand at the titular Brooklyn venue in July of 2004, and captures Mann and her backing band in superb form. Offering up songs from all four of her post-'Til Tuesday albums, the tracks on Live at St. Ann's Warehouse mimic the surfaces of Mann's studio arrangements, but while the band sounds tight, confident, and professional, it also adds a welcome dose of fire and muscle to the songs (especially guitarist Julian Coryell and drummer John Sands), and though Aimee maintains her trademark cool as vocalist, she certainly digs deeper into a her emotional well here than she does in the studio. Beyond two news songs which are expected to be on Mann's next studio set ("King of the Jailhouse" and "Going Through the Motions"), there aren't a whole lot of surprises in the set list, but as a "best of Aimee Mann live" disc, this just about hits the bull's-eye. Live at St Ann's Warehouse offers up some great songs delivered with the skill and conviction they fully deserve, and if you're already a fan, this is a great souvenir of Mann's skills in concert, and beginners may well be surprised at the wit and emotional range of this performance.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming