One possible criticism of Clem Snide's first release, You Were a Diamond, is their lack of drums and/or percussion. The core band doesn't even have an official drummer, so they enlisted Eric Paul for the job. However, it is extremely possible that the minimalistic value of this album is its secret; the absence of tempo could be its alluring magic. Jeff Marshall does a nice job of keeping time on his stand-up bass. The album starts with a number called "Better," which features cutting guitar chords that contrast with the introspectively seductive lyrics. The sweetness of this theme seems emphasized by the soft cello as it softens the blow of the guitar, which seems to represent the turbulence of the outside world. "Nick Drake Tape" is the perfect Clem Snide song: a long, winding reminiscence that propels you into the middle of one of Barzelay's memories. The B-side of the album presents a hermetic bluegrass cover of Hank Williams' "Lost on the River." The last song of the album, "Chinese Baby," leaves you completely satisfied, and yet yearning for more.
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AllMusic Review by Gregg Rounds