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Jennifer O'Connor: Over the Mountain, Across the Valley, and Back to the Stars

Jennifer O'Connor: Over the Mountain, Across the Valley, and Back to the Stars

Release Date:2006

By Raymond Cummings | Posted 8/9/2006

Distance--emotional, physical, or otherwise--is the theme running through New York-based singer/songwriter Jennifer O'Connor's country-tinged, disarmingly inviting Matador debut. A cadre of contributors-Yo La Tengo's James McNew and Spoon's Britt Daniel among them-help flesh her tear-stained tunes out. "I'm keeping a record, desires that I can't afford/ I hope to receive each one as a gift," she admits ruefully on the unadorned "Today," gently worrying her acoustic guitar like a telephone cord.

With Al Weatherhead's Wurlitzer organs prodding at full-band swing, "Dirty City Blues" is made of sterner stuff; it has to be, because O'Connor's longing is more intense, almost corporeal. "If the microphone is broken, I will scream it in the street," she sings. "I will love you like the woodpecker can only love the tree/ I feel the wasted afternoon trying to clamp its teeth in me." A cross between a power-pop protein shake and some Fleetwood Mac white zinfandel, "Turn It Down" takes snapshots of the confusing, conflicted aftermath of a breakup. "Exeter, Rhode Island" swipes a bit of trademark Green Day guitar crunch as its narrator makes the long, deflating drive home from dropping a significant other off at an airport. "I dream vacations and arguments plucked from a vine/ I lost my keys in the vacuum of your worried mind," O'Connor muses thoughtfully at one point, the attractiveness of the image uncertain, its subtext hinting that, sometimes, distance has its advantages.

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