Ripley Caine: Lover (Sweet Pickle)

Lover contains some truly beautiful songs, but if you listen to them closely, it is easy to see a world that is torturous.

Oddly enough, I saw Gigantic, a documentary about They Might Be Giants, right before I wrote this review. In the documentary, critics and fans spoke of the band’s lyrics, a large percentage of which are really quite sad. However, the songs are arranged so cheerfully that you assume that TMBG are singing happy thoughts. Those sad words and experiences either pass over you or seep in like some cynical salve.

While listening to Ripley Caine’s Lover, I had the same thoughts. Her voice is silky smooth and the arrangements are breezy, Caine’s voice strong, assured, and in control. Her lyrics, though, brood on an unpleasant world of betrayal, lost lovers, and the dangers out there. Perhaps it is a bad idea to interpret someone’s mysteries in their lyrics, but it seems as if Caine is exorcising some demons on this CD.

Lover contains some truly beautiful songs, but if you listen to them closely, it is easy to see a world that is torturous. “Monkey in the Middle” has some of the most haunting lyrics: “What it was called before/I want the world to know/what disease may overcome the lost little child in me,/spread by the one who claimed to be free.” In it, you never know if the analogy that she uses is literal or figurative.

In the end, though, I believe Caine decides this is all part of the game of lovers. As she says, “I cry and I fight,/when the time goes away it leaves us waiting/standing proud like lovers do/I cry and I fight.” In Ripley Caine’s world, maybe that is all you can hope for.

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