@#%&! Smilers
AIMEE MANN
Producer(s): Paul Bryan
Label: SuperEgo
After 2005 concept album "The Forgotten Arm" was poorly received, Amy Mann is back to writing stand-alone pop songs, and lo and behold, they comprise her most compelling album to date. As a writer and performer of lovelorn, piano- and guitar-driven pop music, Mann stands with the best of her era. She can sum up universal relationship complications in three-minute, eminently hummable musical nuggets. Cases in point: smoldering love song "True Believer"; the earnest, string-laden ballad "It's Over"; and "Columbus Avenue," where a street serves as metaphor for an ex's downfall. Plus, on album standout "Phoenix," an elegantly turned melody accompanies a singer still working things out in her head as the highway takes her farther from a misguided lover. —Troy Carpenter


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