Roger O'Donnell

Songs from the Silver Box

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Roger O'Donnell's second solo album continued the Moog-driven experiments started on his first releases, finding the keyboardist happily settled into a series of elegant songs, melancholic but pulsing with a quick if intentionally subdued energy. In listening to songs like "The Prince of Time" it's little surprise that O'Donnell has worked with acts like Goddamn Electric Bill, whose winsome electronic songs float along similarly. But by this stage O'Donnell has his own logic at work, something that clearly embraces electronic possibilities first and foremost -- more than many electro-pop albums of any stripe, you sense a careful exploring of possibilities here that at the same time isn't ambient extremity. Instead, Brian Eno's groundbreaking electronic pop in particular is a better starting point, with the Moog's sonic possibilities transplanted to a new century. The slow-building melodies on "If You Were Alone" and the concluding "Musique Pour Irakli" are particular highlights on a sometimes same-sounding album, though in all the general feeling is always entrancing. Erin Lang's vocal contributions throughout give further shape to the album -- her first appearance on "In Your Hands Now" is all cool elegance against a deep bass rumble and echoing keyboard parts, shifting into a slick dance punch that is almost exultant 1993 West Coast techno. "Tiny Pieces of You," meanwhile, almost echoes O'Donnell's most famous previous employers in title and sentiment, but the drone swells and sweet tones are all his own.

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