Emily Kurn,
The Doorman
(Brown Dog, 2001)

Emily Kurn has the weary drawl of Rickie Lee Jones, the sweet sass and spice of Christine Lavin, and Suzanne Vega's gift for poetry, assets that she demonstrates to best advantage on the eight tracks of The Doorman.

Kurn accompanies herself on acoustic guitar with the exception of "Other Places to Go," where only her electric guitar hypnotically underscores the story of a girl who takes the long way 'round trying to find out where she wants to go. On the other tracks, Nina Gerber (lead guitar, electric guitar), Keith Allan (dobro), Kota Blue (mandolin, drums), Mike Lufkin (bass) and Kendrick Freeman (drums) provide tight backup that highlights Kurn's warm and expressive voice.

The poetry of the songs is striking and original; the lyrics exhibit emotions and desires that are common to all but expressed in new and unexpected images. The melodies are mostly deceptively laid back and simple. Such a song is "Lullaby," in which the melody ripples and glides around lyrics telling how the narrator doesn't want to miss out on the world around her. It's followed by the upbeat "Records (Of Where We Are)," which advocates keeping things simple and letting life happen. "I Am the Sun" brings the CD to a jazzy jaunty end; it's reminiscent of some of Paul Simon's songs.

In spite of the recording artists mentioned above, Kurn has her own distinctive sound. The Doorman is a remarkable and varied collection of life- and love-affirming songs from a refreshingly original singer-songwriter.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 10 May 2003

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