On Live City Sounds, Mary Lou Lord returned to her roots. When Lord began performing in the early '90s in Boston, she chose to perform her folk-rock for donations in the city's subway system. Maybe it was the intimacy with her passerby audience or the acoustics of the music bouncing off the subway's concrete walls. Whatever the reason, the setting was ideal for Lord to cut her teeth as a performer. In the fall of 2000, it was again the perfect setting for her return as a performer, after a few years of personal turmoil. She recorded the performance with a portable DAT recorder. The recording quality is surprisingly good. The disc starts off with a cover of the Magnetic Fields' "I Don't Want to Get Over You," which is followed but an exasperated groan from Lord, adding to the intensity of the live performance. Her voice remains composed and delicate, and her acoustic guitar work sounds as good as before. The more than two-year break between recordings didn't affect her musicianship. The disc includes some songs from Lord's previous recordings, including "She Had You" and "His Lamest Flame" from the Got No Shadow CD. Oddly enough, she didn't perform "Subway," originally from that same disc. She also included "Ontario, Quebec and Me" from the limited-edition The Pace of Change EP. Lord always had a fondness for cover songs, recording more than a handful of covers on each of her albums. On Live City Sounds, she covers Big Star's "Thirteen," Heatmiser's "Half Right," Green Pajamas' "She's Still Bewitching Me," Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road," and the Pogues' "Sayonara." Other covers include Sandy Denny's "By the Time it Gets Dark," Shawn Colvin's "Richochet in Time," and Bob Dylan's "You're Going to Make Me Lonesome When You Go"." She also covers two songs by Richard Thompson, "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" and "Beeswing." The disc ends with one of her most heartfelt covers, Daniel Johnston's "Speeding Motorcycle," which she covered on her first self-titled disc on Kill Rock Stars Records. As a whole, this disc serves as a startling reemergence of Mary Lou Lord onto the indie folk rock scene. With more than her share of negative press from detractors, Lord lets the music speak for her. The music remains charming, simple, and powerful.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Cramer