Human Drama

Songs of Betrayal

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Human Drama's fourth full-length effort certainly had a core theme to work with -- Johnny Indovina indicates as much when he notes that the album's inspiration was one Susan McBride, and it's easy to guess what kind of betrayal was likely being talked about. The temporary home of Projekt didn't affect Human Drama's particular artistic vision, though certainly some numbers, notably the varied instrumentals that crop up throughout the album, contain something of that label's quietly ethereal bent. For the most part, though, this is Human Drama continuing its own course, combining the calmer, string-led approach of recent albums with some of the bite of the Feel days, tempered and subtler but still resulting in some fine electric guitar work from Indovina. His singing is still excellent, combining that air of breathless desperation and sharpness that he does so well at his best, while his core backing band does a fine job, with drummer/co-producer C.J. Eiriksson, also a core collaborator on Pin-Ups, keyboardist Mark Balderas, and flautist Renelle Laplante especially worthy of note. There's a fascinating balance at the album's start and end with two differing versions of the same song appearing ("This Forgotten Love") -- the earlier is a lush, full-band and orchestration take, while the later version is a dank, dark keyboard and distorted guitar and vocals variant. "Sad I Cry" is another standout, the arrangements here wonderfully melancholic and deep in a waltz-time pace, while "Tired" takes the opposite approach brilliantly, nothing more than Indovina, his electric guitar and Gerri Sutyak on cello with an intense, minimal burn. With Pin-Ups as a guide, one can almost hear the role models for much of the album -- Tom Waits' ruinous dramas, Leonard Cohen's sighing depths, Lou Reed's clipped emotionalism, even a touch of swampy New Orleans groove on "Let the Darkness In" -- translated into beautiful results.

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