REVIEW: Inner: lovetheonlyway
Inner: lovetheonlyway [Caboose, 2002] (mp3s)
Three words? strange slithering songs
Jennifer Turner has got it almost right. She's played with Natalie Merchant, Ben Folds and Lenny Kravitz; tried the major label thing with a previous band; brushed up her songwriting skills; and now, integrity intact, released an album of slinky folk-pop on a bona fine indie. The album art is sparse and evocative (thick inky letters and an elusive rabbit), the song-titles are reassuring and stucktogether. Better still - she sounds good - voice sketching strange, furry songs atop bass bump, acoustic guitar and interplanetary drum machine.
It's easy to imagine Turner using her talents for Evil. With good looks and a smooth voice, she could follow the path of countless musicians before her. Hire a stylist, buy shorter skirts, and be lost to the purgatory of one-hit pop starlets. Instead, however, Lovetheonlyway is a collection of tracks with integrity and nuance, layers to be heard on repeated listens. "Ohmygod", dense as wax, synth buzzing over creaks and feedback, is at once firm - angry, determined, glaring - and absolutely, all-is-lost miserable. "Morninglikeme" is dominated by Turner's punk-kissed narration, attitude and sex like a more street-savvy Mirah. "Slither", on the other hand, is a beautiful piece of organ-driven melancholia: whispers and lilt and brushed drums.
Inner orbits the same suns as Beck and Lori Carson - the band is brave with its arrangements, transforming melodic Lilithpop (see: Alanis, Sarah, Jewel et al) into strange, broken things. It is not a record that demands attention - for all the spit and vinegar on "dontcare", there is none of Tori Amos's melodrama - and this lackadaisicalness is a double-edged sword. Though at times lovetheonlyway is comforting and familiar (as on "Slither", or "Lullabye"), elsewhere it is tragically forgettable. On occasion the band's looseness descends into indulgence (see: "houselikeours", "kissmetwotimes", "thinkingisthewaymymindsounds").
Despite these missteps, however, lovetheonlyway should be admired for how well it measures up against its considerable ambition. It is weird and often wonderful, the work of an artist whose voice flies free from the confines of convention.