Jeff Black

Tin Lily

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Jeff Black has won a solid rep for writing impressionistic songs that are smart without forgetting the emotional undercurrent, and Tin Lily should deepen that feeling. The slow-rolling "Easy On Me" works like an updated, less sexist version of Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe."Black's narrator doesn't want commitment any more than Dylan's, he just has a nicer way of putting it. "Hollow of Your Hand" is more prosaic, evoking the open road and the American landscape without getting too specific. Is he living in the shadow of a lover's hand? Or perhaps someone -- a singer or a writer -- who's come before him? In the end, the identity matters less than the impression of "farmlands of southern Illinois" opening up to reveal all of their natural glory. Black wraps his vocals around the lyrics of these and other songs, bringing a warm resonance that shows he's lived with them. The subtle arrangements of piano, guitar, and organ create a layered underpinning that adds another dimension to a song like "Nineteen" without overpowering it, while the rocking guitar brings a carefree abandon to "Libertine." These shifts in tone also give Tin Lily more variety than 2003's B-Sides and Confessions, Vol. 1, and ultimately make it a more satisfying recording. Black, it seems, has found his comfort zone.

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