Lui Collins,
(Waterbug, 2006)

Closer is a mixed bag. Sticking pretty close to a nature theme, the album features Lui Collin's recited poetry between her songs. The poems celebrate being outdoors, enjoying the change of the seasons, catching sight of the animals -- the joy of being in this place at this time.

Using the poems is not a wholly successful strategy. For one thing, the recitations break the flow of the album. Rather than building to a peak, the album continually seems to be starting and stopping. There's no real flow. The poems also call attention to another problem with the CD: there are too many adjectives, too much description in place of action. In too many cases, Collins tells rather than shows. They also touch on the abstract too much, using images that don't always add up. At one point, for example, Collins sees great meaning in abandoned chalk. Unfortunately, she doesn't make me see it.

There are, though, a lot of positives in the album. When her songs work, they nail the topic and, I suspect, that without all of the poetic trappings of the album, they would work better. She's also an excellent judge of covers, bringing in material by Cheryl Wheeler and Patti Griffin.

On the whole, if you're already a Collins fan, Closer will satisfy you. If you aren't, this CD probably won't win you over.

by Michael Scott Cain
9 December 2006

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