Barbie's Cradle

Music from the Buffet Table

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In 2000, Philippine acoustic rock band Barbie's Cradle released its second album, Music From the Buffet Table. The band is fronted by female singer/songwriter Barbie Almalbis, who also plays guitar and piano. The main influence on Barbie's Cradle is American singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. The music of Barbie's Cradle finds strength in its acoustic delicateness. Barbie Almalbis has matured perceptibly as a songwriter and vocalist since first entering a recording studio for 1997's Hungry Young Poets, the self-titled album for the now defunct group she once fronted. However, while that album and Barbie's Cradle's first release, 1999's Barbie's Cradle, showed flashes of intelligence, the songs often lacked charisma. Music From the Buffet Table, however, presents a much different story. Though delicate and quiet, the songs are charming and enjoyable.

Barbie Almalbis' songwriting is sharper, and her singing shows development and maturity. The difference is immediate, and the album's opening song, "How Long," is an eye-opener. The song is spirited, melodic, and quite engaging, and it is propelled by the upbeat acoustic instrumentation. Barbie Almalbis' singing is delicately strong and tuneful.

The slow "Shiny Red Balloon" is a fanciful, catchy tune, while the whimsical "Boat" features cheerfully dissonant piano playing. "Money for Food" contains raucous electric guitar. Barbie Almalbis sings in a higher register on much more of this album than before, but she sounds comfortable and strong. The album's last three songs come from 1999's Barbie's Cradle.

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