I'VE FORGOTTEN EVERYTHING • Lee Feldman
Imagine if Charlie Brown made pop records.
That'll give you a general idea of what Lee Feldman sounds like. A likable misfit, trying to keep his kite out of the tree and get through the day without being tripped up by life's little disappointments. And like our pal Charlie, he maintains a kind of cautious optimism. As he sings on the title track, "I used to think that I could never win before / But we could win a battle or two."
The Peanuts comparison is apt musically too, in that Feldman's jazzy style as a pianist and composer makes an appreciative nod to Vince Guaraldi. There are also traces of Randy Newman, Tom Lehrer and Burt Bacharach, but over the course of three fine solo albums (plus a film soundtrack), Feldman has melded these into something distinctly his own.
The stories he tells this time out are, as always, quirky and affecting. Here's a smitten limo driver driving his lady boss through the mountains ("Mrs. Green"). There's a guy shopping in a mysterious store in Paris whose shelves are lined with orange extract and big women ("Big Women On The Shelves"). And then there's my favorite one, about an old forgotten couple residing in a war zone (the haunting and lovely "Me And My Sara Remaining"). It's refreshing to hear pop songs about subjects that pop songs don't typically address.
The brief instrumental interludes "Bowling Accident In Lane 3" and "Waltz For A Sad Girl" make refreshing palette cleansers, while two self-referential songs, "Lee Feldman" and "Mr. Feldman," give funny glimpses into the artist's self-image.
Feldman has been working his low-key magic over the past ten years, mostly in Brooklyn and Greenwich Village. Tapping into the city scene, he's also enlisted some of Manhattan's finest players for a core band--Bill Dobrow on drums, Byron Isaacs on bass, and Teddy Thompson on guitar.
If you like pop music that's smart and simple, mirthful and mysterious, then good grief, don't be a blockhead. Check out Lee Feldman. • Bill DeMain