Tuesday, November 6, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 54



Indie rocker Jenny Toomey 'pops' listeners with catchy love tunes

By Ellen Simonson
Daily Cougar Staff

Jenny Toomey goes way back in the indie rock scene; she was a member of the bands Tsunami, Grenadine and Liquorice, and she and Tsunami
bandmate Kristin Thomson were revered for their aplomb in running their own record label, Simple Machines.

Charles Steck/Misra Records

Jenny Toomey fascinates her listeners with her alluring voice and original pop tunes. Her latest album, Antidote, is split in two one half was recorded
in Nashville, while the other half was finished in Chicago.

This year's Antidote is Toomey's debut solo offering.

The album comes in two halves, one recorded in Chicago and the other in Nashville.

The first song on the first half, "Patsy Cline," is from the perspective of a woman addressing her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend.

"Don't ever give him pause/ To question your commitment/ 'Cause that's his escape clause," Toomey says, before paying tribute to the legendary
chanteuse with "Patsy Cline/ She had a great line/ She said, 'You took him off my hands/ Now could you get him off my mind?'"

Antidote is pure pop, which makes sense considering Toomey's past (Tsunami especially was a brilliant pop band in the Belle and Sebastian tradition,
bridging complex arrangements with sheer catchiness).

The record features 17 musicians besides Toomey, who handles guitar and vocals on each of the tracks.

Various songs include cello, bass, piano, trumpet, flute, organ, violin, viola, piano, bells and clarinet.

One of the best songs on the "Chicago" half is "Word Traffic," which begins with the anybody-can-relate lyrics, "He had more records than words/ So he
played them when we're alone/ Instead of speaking."

The song's chorus is glorious "Don't say a word, no, don't say a word, no," Toomey repeats again and again. In the best pop-music style, it sounds
like it means nothing, but in context it means a whole lot.

"Breezewood, PA" is another excellent song on "Chicago."

Both the lyrics and the music are unflinchingly honest. "I'm not offering a heart you could break/ Just a chance you might make a graceful mistake,"
Toomey intones softly over the strings in the background.

The first striking thing about Antidote is the lush, lovely arrangements; the second is Toomey's voice, which is clear and evocative.

The third is the lyrical content, which is almost entirely subtle and insightful: "I'm anchored to how much I want you" ("Fall on Me"); "There's as many
kinds of happiness as there are sorts of sorrow ... The obvious never found a voice" ("Artful Dodger").

Only two songs out of the 16 on this album are covers "Needmore, PA" by Adam Cohen (son of legend Leonard) and "Fool for You" by the equally
legendary Curtis Mayfield.

"Needmore, PA" works as counterpoint to Toomey's own "Breezewood, PA," and she covers it well, but it's on "Fool for You" that she really shines.

Her voice, even stronger here than on the rest of the album, is clear and honest, while her backing musicians pay a respectable tribute to funk.

The last song on "Nashville," "Further Unclaimed," is a surprise.

Toomey plays the lounge singer here, her voice low and raspy over a simple piano and string melody.

It's interesting, as though she is trying to remind listeners that while she may concentrate on pop, she has a range well beyond that.

Most of the songs on Antidote are about love. In fact, most of them are about lost love, doomed love or love otherwise gone wrong.

But the eloquence and grace with which the subject is handled makes it fascinating.

Pop music about love is nothing new, but Toomey's take on it is. Repeated listening only makes Antidote more impressive Toomey is obviously a
musician to be taken seriously.

Jenny Toomey


**** (out of five stars)

Misra Records

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