Paula Carino's Open on Sunday

A song cycle, as I hear it, about an aspiring Jersey Girl — aspirant to Jersey City, at least, and Anything With Capital Letters Above All (Even If She Hasn't Thought That Through). She runs away to Maxwell's in Hoboken (promising her mother she'll bring the car back).

Pains, growing, yes. Cleverness, yes ("Any bird of paradise can fly too low/And turn himself into vermin" — that could come out of some philosophy paperback in a leaky shop, awaiting its next victim), but enough awareness (finally) that cleverness doesn't cut the pain that you feel for her.

By the end ("The local gods have not followed me here/They seem frightened by water/and the darkness of this place"), her alienation waxes positively Lovecraftian, but remember that Lovecraft wrote "The Outsider," without which no modern English speaker can understand alienation. Carino's heroine's still young and human. We can imagine some rebuilding.

I want to talk about Ross Bonadonna's guitar in the space I've got left because Ross Bonadonna's guitar functions much like Keith Richards's in those mid-period Stones songs ("Hand of Fate") Carino takes for inspiration. He doesn't sound loud or even particularly splurgy. But if his playing fell out of the music the rest would collapse around that lack, a superheated donut sagging around its hole. To break the heart of Carino's construct, to deprive said construct of all perceivable options, the singer joined hands with the man. The first law of art, after all, is contrast.

  • Album: Open on Sunday (2010)
  • Artist: Paula Carino
  • Label: Intellectual House o' Pancakes Records
  • Songs: (1) (Mother I Must Go to) Maxwell's (2) Robots (Helping Robots) (3) Rough Guide (4) Lucky in Love (5) The Great Depression (6) Sensitive Skin (7) The Others (8) With the Bathwater (9) Foxhound (10) Sir You Have No Bucket (11) Road to Hell (12) 10 Minutes (13) Saying Grace Before the Movie (14) Closed on Sunday

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I think I'd buy anything on Intellectual House o' Pancakes Records.

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