It’s been a while since that inimitable lyric “Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box/Religion is a smile on a dog” indelibly burned itself into pop music idiom. It’s been 14 years since 1989’s “What I Am” (from Edie Brickell and the Bohemians’s debut Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars), and almost a decade since Brickell’s last solo album. Since then, Brickell devoted most of her energy to more significant matters (like home and hearth). But now she’s back in the game with Volcano, reestablishing a viable place for modern, post-folk rock. Brickell’s voice hasn’t changed a bit; her style is still idiosyncratic and reflective, her tone still carefree and dreamy. But this time, Brickell is without the Bohemians, performs all the vocals herself, and takes center stage as chief lyricist and musician. Newly honed guitar and songwriting skills are put to the utmost use and the result is pure magic. Volcano dabbles in pseudo-edgy rock (“I’ll Be Surprised”) but it’s primarily a disc of gentle melodies and flowing, meandering imagery. “Take A Walk” recalls the slowed-down pace of a lazy Sunday afternoon, evoking the reverie of “Feeling Groovy” by Paul Simon, her husband of more than a decade. The acoustic “Rush Around” is anything but hurried, instead delivered as a tempered, swaying glide, showcasing the full range of Brickell’s musical palette. Elsewhere on the album, rocker/producer Charlie Sexton’s influence is clearly felt. The fellow Texan contributes not only his distinctive blues guitar (“Volcano”), but also an almost innate understanding for what makes Brickell such a fascinating talent. By giving her the freedom to let her songs breathe naturally on what is an exceedingly moving record, Sexton has presented Brickell with a fresh canvas to fully express and explore her matured talents.
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