Highlights: Charmer, Labrador, Soon Enough, Red Flag Diver
Always good to have her back: this lady just isn’t capable of doing wrong, and ten seconds into the title track you feel you are exactly where you should be. It’s classy, it’s tasteful, it’s well-written. And Aimee Mann’s voice is just as charming and resonant as ever; nonchalant yet addictive.
And the songs, of course, are profoundly Good. Certainly not her sharpest set ever (that would have to be either Bachelor No.2 or my personal favourite, Lost In Space), but the genuine, melancholic power of these tunes has been growing on me ever since I first played the album. The aforementioned title-track is arguably the best song here, with an instantly memorable vocal melody and clever use of keyboards. The lovely, piano-based “Labrador” is another highlight, while the collaboration with James Mercer “Living A Lie” is without a doubt the best thing The Shins’ frontman has done in years.
I may have a few problems with side two (with a couple of rather middle-of-the-road songs hiding uninspired tunes behind immaculate taste), but still the album ends on a brilliant note: the lilting country-pop charmer called “Red Flag Driver” is as good a song as she has ever done.
Besides being an amazing little album in its own right, for me Charmer was also a much needed therapy after the murky excuse that is John Cale’s new album. Charmer (perfect title) is like a warm, pleasant winter evening in your favourite armchair: good vibes and a feeling of absolute contentment.