There's a record I've been waiting for, but I never thought it could exist...until now. Here's the formula: Take Carole King and those cynical, mealymouthed technicians from Steely Dan, get them kinda slurry and queered up on medicated cough syrup (okay, nothing that reaches the gooey, nod-filled potency of the goodies Winona and Courtney got from Dr. Jules Lusman, but something simple that reminds rich kids of the projects and back surgery), sprinkle a smidge of Sade in the kiln, and take it to the studio.
The result is the solo debut of a 30ish Chicagoan named Azita, who might be best known for her work with the no-wave band Scissor Girls. The album's called Enantiodromia. (I couldn't pronounce it either.) Wait. It gets better. She's Iranian. (Don't worry, it ain't world music, or anything else that could be hampered by Daniel Lanois.) Still with me? Two of the eight tunes feature piano and nothing else. Fancy a peek at the cover? The pose, the hairdo, the bushy eyebrows, and the pistachio green background reek of the grad student you've hidden from at the co-op. All of this evidence, coupled with the above description and the fact that there's no Universal/Def Jam/ Interscope/MCA/ Pizza Hut/Hershey loot behind the release, pretty much guarantees it will launch headlong into the hemp ceiling and fizzle away.
It shouldn't, though. Sure, the year is young, but the second track, a gallop for piano and voice called "On the Road," is hands down the best song I've heard in 2003 so far. Azita's lyrics are impressionistic dispatches from a brainy overachiever who's pissing it all away on the business side of Friday night with soy milk, rum, a map of the suburbs, and a naughty feather. Her music is the perfect soundtrack for times when you're wasting the remaining kibbles of your freelance check and there's some hump home in bed who wants a latte and a handjob and to just sell his friggin' novel and, oh yeah, the Saab didn't get plugged in last night. That's what this record is, aided and abetted for 41 minutes by Rob Mazurek's foggy cornet and Jeff Parker's guitar noodles. It's a late valentine from someone who claims not to give a rat's hot one about Valentine's Day, but might change her mind after a shiraz and a massage. In that order.
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