Now that Liz Phair has grown up and embraced her inner Sheryl Crow, some lo-fi lady out there needs to step into Phair's old shoes and continue making records about the challenge of finding love in Guyville. On her fourth full-length, It's a Game, Phair's fellow Chicagoan Edith Frost makes a pretty convincing pitch for the position. "You've been making plans with another woman," she tells some asshole musician in "Emergency," the album's first cut, "I don't know why." Like Phair, Frost is hilariously plainspoken; she doesn't have much use for metaphor. In "What's the Use," she questions an ex about his reasons for leaving: "It wasn't my body, it wasn't my sex, it wasn't my fault--that's what you said." A couple of black crows appear in the lyrics to "My Lover Won't Call," which details the mundane aftereffects of a breakup; you're tempted to ponder what those birds might symbolize until Frost reminds you that she's still gotta remember to "call up the landlord and shut off the phone."
Frost recorded It's a Game with members of Chicago's sprawling indie rock scene (including Azita Youssefi of Scissor Girls, former Coctail Mark Greenberg, and Drag City majordomo Rian Murphy), and the music oozes the cozy, handmade sense of intimacy Phair got on her early stuff, back when she was part of the same scene. The title cut is a loping country shuffle with wistful piano tinkles and a sweet circus organ solo. Halfway through "A Mirage," somebody breaks into a keyboard part that improbably recalls "Que Sera Sera." Not unlike Phair's, Frost's voice is fairly thin for someone who's taken up singing as a profession. But with help from Murphy (who produced), she finds ways to make her vocal limitations work for her, as in "It's a Game," where she dreams of a standup fellow "cuddling me in a Hollywood pavilion." The song is about wanting to give into that sort of fantasy, yet finding plenty of reasons to resist; there's something to Frost's impassive vocal that communicates that struggle. She's sick to death of the old fuck-and-run.
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