TAMPA BAY WEEKLY

 

Return to Amanda Palmer

 

Dresden Dolls vocalist releases unexpected solo effort

Article published on Monday, March 23, 2009

“Who Killed Amanda Palmer,” by Amanda Palmer, released 2008 by Roadrunner Records.

ST. PETERSBURG – Known chiefly as one half of punk rock cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls, Amanda Palmer will take the stage on Thursday, March 26, 7 p.m., at State Theater, 687 Central Ave.

Tickets are $16. Call 895-3045 or visit www.statetheatreconcerts.com.

Performer, director, composer and musician, Palmer struck out on her own with the release of “Who Killed Amanda Palmer” in September 2008. Produced by Ben Folds, the album includes a number of fiery piano ballads and showcases the goth songbird’s musicianship, song-writing skills and passion for her art.

Upon first listening to “Who Killed Amanda Palmer,” immediate comparisons spring to mind. Tori Amos. Ani DiFranco. PJ Harvey. Maybe even, in a weird way, Joni Mitchell. That’s not to say that Palmer has crafted a pastiche to pay homage to any one of these artists or even fused all their styles to forge some kind of amalgamation. No, Palmer subtly lets the listener know she’s aware of both her forebears and the contemporary artists who continue to influence the collective consciousness of the music scene.

Folds’ touch is in the overriding mellowness of tone found on “Who Killed Amanda Palmer,” although the album does shift gears ever so often to keep it from being too predictable.

Of all the songs, “Oasis” has received the most attention, its delibertely evocative lyrics sparking controversy and infuriating just enough people to see it banned in at least one Western country. In it, Palmer sings about rape and abortion with an unsettling bouncy apathy. The black humor, punctuated with doo-wop backing vocals, is a satirical assault on the indifference of the iGeneration.

“Amersand” and “Another Year” are two of the most elegant pieces on the album. “Guitar Hero” is edgier, but it lacks the passion found in most of the other tracks.

Annie Clark, AKA St. Vincent, delivers a wickedly dark adaptation of “What’s the Use of Wond’rin?” that shreds 1950s era perceptions of masculinity.

Palmer’s lyrics are painfully intimate at times. There’s heartbreak and anger as she explores topics such as dysfunctional families, bad relationships and the aftermath of separation. What began as a side project – the word is Palmer planned to record the ablum in her bedroom, not in Folds’ Nashville studio – may well lead the artist to a new direction.

Then again, her next project may be as unexpected – and brilliant – as this one.
Article published on Monday, March 23, 2009