UNDERDOG VICTORIOUS (Artemis) Jill Sobule
The great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, "In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little, human detail can become a Leitmotiv."
It's an apt idea when you talk about Jill Sobule, who often writes about small things and peppers her lyrics with keenly observed, evocative details. On her sixth album, there's the hot plate and empty pizza boxes of "Freshman" that define a sad, extended adolescent lifestyle. There's the talkbox and the Peavey bass that conjure up a certain kind of druggy 70s rock band in "Cinnamon Park." In "Joey," she paints a picture of the hard-living sex kitten Joey Heatherton with mentions of a mattress ad and the USO in 'Nam. In "Strawberry Gloss," it's retainers, Jean Naté and "kissing the mirror to see how I'd taste" that lets you feel the heartbreak of a shy teenage girl. And in one of the album's most powerful songs, "Tel Aviv," Sobule gets inside the head of a young prostitute who, in the middle of a trick, is daydreaming of being back home on the farm with her friend Sofia, "running and laughing out loud down by the river."
All of this lyrical brilliance is matched by Sobule's usual flair for melody. And that's what separates her from a lot of storytelling singer-songwriters. She knows from a good hook. Her longtime producers Brad Jones and Robin Eaton (who doubles as Sobule's co-writing foil) continue to display a facility for bringing everything from movie soundtrack atmosphere to Vegas bright light swing to funky R & B to straight-up pop to the party.
It's a shame that for many, Jill is still known as a kind of one-hit wonder (the catchy lesbian chic song "I Kissed A Girl" put her on the radio back in 1995). Anyone who spends time with this album, or any from her back catalog, will discover that this is a deep, funny, and engaging songstress who deserves more than a cult following.
Or to paraphrase the title track--"Underdog victorious, she is simply glorious." Bill DeMain
check out our interview with Ms. Sobule