Singer/songwriter Rebecca Pronsky concludes her second album with "Good Life," a five-minute near-instrumental during which she lazily repeats only two lines, "I've been given a good life" and "I was born at the right time," while the track is dominated by Rich Bennett's languorous, echoed guitar playing. By this point in the album, it's clear that Pronsky's world view isn't nearly as positive as those words would indicate. In fact, earlier she had finished "Special" by singing, "I was born before the war broke out/And I'll die as soon as I'm allowed." Actually, most of her observations aren't that dire, either. Pronsky is an allusive, poetic lyricist who isn't interested in providing clear, linear meanings so much as impressions, dreams, and moods. To the extent that the first-person narrator of all of her songs on Viewfinder can be considered a single character, that character is one who finds the world and the significant other in her life not quite up to snuff, but she's not ready to give up on either. The clearest expression of her point of view may be expressed in "Fragile World," when she sings, "Across the street I had a friend/She moved away when I was ten/And I never saw her again/So I learned that anything can end." Thus, life can't really satisfy the singer's expectations of it, and disappointment is a given. Pronsky makes these observations in a clear, resonant tenor, strumming her acoustic guitar over a rhythm section, while Bennett provides the musical color on lead electric guitar, piano, mandolin, and organ. At times, as in the lead-off track, "Hard Times" (which can be taken to be about economic or emotional challenges), he revs things up to a rockabilly pace, although he can subside into providing nearly ambient soundscapes, as in "Good Life." Whatever the dissatisfactions the singer expresses, Bennett's playing provides a counterweight; life may not be good, but the music can be.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann