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June Panic | Baby's Breadth (Secretly Canadian)
It would be easy for an uneducated man as I to find such as June Panic a little threatening, for he (yes, she is a he) is you see, oh, so very wordy. After all, this is a man who, according to the Secretly Canadian website, practices a philosophy, which he describes as "a Heideggarian disavowal of ethics as a seperate (sic) philosophical discipline, seen from within an overlapping of Kantian epistomological (sic) limits with Wittgensteinian analysis of ordinary language seeking resolve through Emersonian Perfectionism." Erm, yeah right... And this is his failing. Refute as he may, the claim that he is pretentious, there are times when his point gets lost, as he veers off any linear track and his head disappears up his own arse. (At his worst he is guilty of an ugly elitism, coming across as smug and not a little self-obsessed). And that is a great shame, for Mr June is a serious and sincere man with much of interest to say. 'Baby's Breadth', his eleventh album to date, is a considered and spirited affair, at times maddeningly frustrating and at others simply beautiful. Musically it swaggers amongst the beer slops, doing the barroom Stones shuffle with a lazy drunken slide and reeling piano. As June passionately delivers his philosophical musings like Nikki Sudden strangling Dylan, ("If enough of us die and the rest take to drinkin' / you know we might find that the world is not so unkind... only restless," he sings on If Enough Of Us Die). Like its predecessors, 'Baby's Breadth' tackles the concepts of Life and Death, continuing June's indefatigable search for the answers to what may be unanswerable questions. Originally designed as a six track mini album detailing the relationship of a new couple, the birth of their child and the ensuing questions and doubts that arise with parenthood. If it had been left as such, it would certainly be a thing of great beauty. Sadly, June decided to add the preceding eight tracks, which focus on physical birth as a metaphor for spiritual birth and the subsequent life of supplication (or something like that). It is not that these earlier tracks fail in any sense â?? indeed both See(ing) Double and The Song Is Singing Us (with the line, "Well, we're driving the train and we don't even know what's in it / And the further we go the less we even think to look") are fine, intelligent, thought provoking pop songs â?? it's just that, well, sometimes a little is mightier than a whole lot. And clarity is lost when spread too thinly. That said, 'Baby's Breadth' remains a highly emotional and intensely personal album that deals with one man's faith and manages to gently prod without ever getting too close to taking a preacher man's stance. And, you know what, the tunes ain't bad either...
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002