Cindy Lee Berryhill

Who's Gonna Save the World?

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Cindy Lee Berryhill's first album made what little marketplace splash it did largely through the college radio favorite "Damn, I Wish I Was a Man," a sardonic folk tune that sounds like Berryhill is trying to be Christine Lavin's snotty kid sister. Funny and trenchant though that song is, the best of Who's Gonna Save the World outshines it handily; along with Suzanne Vega's first album and a small handful of others, this album defines the post-punk world of folk. The title track, a self-mocking repudiation of youthful outrage, is sly where "Damn, I Wish I Was a Man" is obvious, and "Ballad of a Garage Band" trumps them both with an authorial eye that's tender and sharp at the same time. The best tracks, however, are "Looking Through Portholes," which has the cheerful bounce of classic mid-'60s folk-rock, and the hard-edged opener, "She Had Everything," a clear-eyed portrait of the scene of a young girl's suicide described with dispassionate detail and an unsentimental urgency. The plodding "This Administration" is a bit obvious and the singalong "Whatever Works" goes on a bit, but this is a powerful and assured debut overall.

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