Louise Goffin

Sometimes a Circle

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AllMusic Review by Robert L. Doerschuk

Clearly this daughter of songwriting legends Gerry Goffin and Carole King knows her way through a tune, through there is more art than accessibility in this comeback effort. Surprises hide in the details, such as the exotic modal effect in the opening of the chorus on "I Can't Remember Why," though these moments can feel like effects grafted onto the surface of the music. There are definite standout songs, including "Saved by the Bell," whose intricate chord movement supports effective, understated lyrics set to a fragmented melody. More often, her reliance on cliché subverts the material: The phrases "blind man's bluff," "skin of my teeth," and "stand on my own two feet" all crop up in "Just Bone and Breath," for example. Goffin sings sotto voce through a variety of arrangements. These range from a stark collision of languid acoustic guitar and quivering organ dissonances on "Quiet Anesthesia" to "Sleep With Me Instead," a mélange of real and Mellotron strings, flute clusters reminiscent of "Strawberry Fields Forever," and a sunny bossa nova beat. On more straightforward presentations, simple elements focus the listener; "What if I Were Talkin' to Me," for instance, hangs on a sleepwalking descending line as a Body Heat-vintage synth purrs across an undistinguished rhythm bed. Only on "Light in Your Eyes," one of just two tunes on the album that she wrote alone, does Goffin evoke a more traditional pop sound, though the major-seventh piano hook draws less from her mother's work than from Laura Nyro. The purity of this track suggests that Goffin is strongly affected by her writing partners, and that balancing solo and collaborative work may be as critical to her work as to that of her mother.

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