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Carbon Leaf
Nothing Rhymes With Woman
Vanguard Records
www.carbonleaf.com


Nothing rhymes with woman, well yeah, that's right. Toeman, Foeman, Moeman - nope, all fake words. Therefore the album title Nothing Rhymes With Woman is not only true, but creative. With this release marking their seventh full-length studio album, you could say that Carbon Leaf has a few years under their belt. And as with any band that got their start in the 90s, they're automatically given a huge hurtle to jump over - maintaining fans through the new millennium change over. Not only do kids buy music completely differently now, they also look at it in a different light. You've got to have the kind of band that can either adapt or have such a strong following that they wouldn't care what decade they're in. Carbon has such simplicity to their music that they're able to adapt to Y2K and anything else that's thrown at them.

After the success of Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat and the single "Learn To Fly" that came about a mere 3 years ago, the guys haven't wasted any time putting out some new tunes. With the previous album, we were centered on the theme of love, and the fun of falling in (and out) of it. With Nothing Rhymes With Woman there's less of a center and more of a variety around the general tone. The first track "Indecision" is done in a very similar style to the up-beat rock made so popular by O.A.R. Though the lyrics may not be the most uplifting, "Long days, fade away, I hope to see them again" - the combination of light vocals and a piano right out of a southern church makes this a great song to get everyone in the mood. In the lyrics from "Another Man's Woman" you get the origin of the album title. We're still in the south, however this time we're hitting it rhythm and blues style. There's a great addition of possibly a banjo (or blues guitar) getting its pluck on in the background. And with lyrics, "washed up in the desert and there's nothing to drink/and it's no surprise that nothing rhymes with woman" this song already takes the sound of the album in a new direction. For a more lively song, one should listen to "Miss Hollywood" which goes back to that O.A.R. sound and almost puts a little bit of a Spin Doctors pop mix on it. This song is extremely radio friendly and has an infectious hook-ready chorus. When you get down to "Lake Of Silver Bells" the sound shifts again ever so slightly, though one can't help but feel like this shift pulls it back to a sound originally heard on Echo, Echo (released in 2001). It's distinctively more alternative and taken down a bit in tempo. Vocals level themselves out in a lower octave and the guitar moves away from the acoustic side to the electric rock side. The change is good, because the sound is still strong. Though it feels a little like this is another song which is out of its element. "Meltdown" seems like middle ground for the band. It uses some of that blues we felt earlier, through vocals that go sultry over the electronic elements on stage, but then the main sound actually leans towards very, very rock. The lead guitar really shows its skills and even pushes to the point of a hint of Peter Frampton-esque talking. The harmonies in the chorus are perfection and beg one to sing along. "Snowfall Music" was one of the song titles that truly peaked my curiosity. What is snowfall music? Music that you listen to while snow is falling? Well for Carbon Leaf, it's guitar heavy, nearly monotone vocals, all with a bit of computer notes that sneak in a couple times. The lyrics do mention snow and after listening to the whole song, I really feel that's the only correlation to snowfall music.

If you've been a Carbon Leaf fan in the past you may actually be a bit confused by this album. As it's sort of hard to tell which direction they want to go (or go back to). However on this one, they are finally kicking up the tempo a notch or two. And for the purpose of bringing in new fans, that's exactly what they need to do. Their shows can be full of more energy now, making them a pretty perfect summer band. And Nothing Rhymes With Woman goes along nicely.

-Rachel Fredrickson

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