Joy Eden Harrison,
(Astarte, 1999)

There is very little left unspoken in the deeply personal songs on this record. Joy Eden Harrison has a strong voice, and her songs of love, relationships and life tell stories and use simile and metaphor to paint pretty, sad pictures.

The opening track, "40 Days and 40 Nights," shows a woman pining for the love who cheats on her, treading water until he decides who he wants -- and coming to the realization that she'll survive it either way. In "Pushing My Luck," Harrison becomes an obsessed admirer, completely in love with the object of her desire: "I'd gladly break a mirror, with both our faces in it / For seven years of anything with you." The idea that the loudest laugh hides the deepest pain is the premise behind "Everybody's Good Time Girl." It reminds me of country artist John Anderson's "Straight Tequila Nights" -- she hides the pain with alcohol, but it will break free eventually, and the one who has been hurt will hurt back.

Harrison tackles the suffocation of controlling relationships in "Rubber Band" and the uncertainty of new love in "Leap in the Dark." And amid the talk of love and hate and lust and sadness is "Yellow," an eight-minute rambling story full of colour and the imagery of sound and shadow. Harrison speaks most of the lyrics, accompanied chiefly by a 1950s detective movie bass rhythm. It's an unusual choice for this record, but it seems to fit somehow.

Colour and innuendo are key here -- in deeply honest songs about love and pain and about how they so often mean the same thing. Harrison's lyrics take centre stage, the clarity of her voice and the simplicity of her guitar accompanying her on the journey. This is a great record to talk you through a bad breakup, to give you renewed conviction -- whether you were the dumper or the dumpee.

[ by Rachel Jagt ]

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