Record Review - 3 October 02 2003

Where there’s love, there’s action, sings Clem Snide’s Eef Barzelay, sounding like an upbeat Gordon Gano against strummed acoustic guitar, banjo and brushed drums. Unlike the wry Violent Femmes’ lead singer though, Barzelay approaches the subject without irony. Snide’s singer/songwriter is in love with love and even if some of his lyrics on Soft Spot are typically obtuse, the album’s evocative title is no joke. In his world, kisses that taste like tangerine, Al Green and sweetened ice tea, catching your lover’s cold and tickling her feet are a few of Barzelay’s favorite things.

But regardless of how corny it seems, he makes the “L” word — used repeatedly on most tracks and inferred on the rest — sound romantic, in a giddy yet mature way. For all the softly strummed guitars under cliched platitudes, Barzelay’s gauzy, nonchalant voice and his beautiful song structures draw you into a dreamy, Technicolor world.

Horns, glockenspiel, organ, strings, vibraphone, euphonium, suede zither and even electric guitars float through these tracks, adding texture to the folk, bossa nova and lounge rhythms without overwhelming the melancholy melodies. Each is sung by Barzelay as if he’s swooning, starry-eyed, after meeting his soulmate.

Clem Snide plays the Echo Lounge Fri., Oct. 3. $10.