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As ever with this maverick talent, Gemstones is predictable only in its sheer unpredictability. Whilst his musical style remains at least moderately categorizable (those ragged folk rhythms are still present and correct), lyrically, his approach is more laissez faire than the economic policies of Reagan and Thatcher combined.
Paul Nolan, 02 Feb 2005
Few singer/songwriters currently plying their trade are so consummately oddball as Adam Green. The Mouldy Peaches troubadour has an askew lyrical perspective that’s similar in style to Steve Malkmus, whilst his favoured musical stomping ground - a frequently insane mishmash of lachrymose country lament and uproarious hoedown - puts even Beck to shame in the gonzo anti-folk experimentalist stakes.
But there’s no two ways about it - the man knows his way around his tune. His winning way with a naive melody and an offbeat lyrical touch was perhaps most spectacularly in evidence on ‘Jessica’ from 2003’s Friends Of Mine. A naggingly catchy, melancholy composition about the vacuity of blonde teen-queen Jessica Simpson, it’s received more than its fair share of airings in the hotpress offices over the past eighteen months.
As ever with this maverick talent, Gemstones is predictable only in its sheer unpredictability. Whilst his musical style remains at least moderately categorizable (those ragged folk rhythms are still present and correct), lyrically, his approach is more laissez faire than the economic policies of Reagan and Thatcher combined. But far from being annoyingly affected or self-consciously quirky, you get the feeling that Green is one of those performers, such as the aforementioned Beck and Malkmus, who luxuriates in the textures of language and the unexpected surprises of freeform narrative for their own sake.
And he doesn’t half produce some crackers on Gemstones. One of the highlights is ‘Bible Club’, reminiscent for all the world of The Simpsons episode where Bart falls for the wicked charms of Reverend Lovejoy’s errant daughter (incidentally, also called Jessica if memory serves correct). Here, Green relates a similarly funny and supremely well-observed tale of, ahem, extracurricular activities at his weekly religious tutorial.
Elsewhere, ‘Choke On A Cock’ is a lewd, surreal lyrical odyssey which Johnny Depp’s legal advisors may well take a keen interest in; ‘Chubby Princess’ is a charming paean to misfits in love that sounds like it’s been imported direct from the soundtrack to Napoleon Dynamite; whilst ‘Crackhouse Blues’ (worryingly) does exactly what it says on the tin.
As John Goodman once observed of David Byrne, this guy works from a different dictionary, but Adam Green’s lexicon is one well-worth becoming fluent in.