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Crash Test Dummies
Brad Roberts, the impossibly deep voiced Dummies frontman, rolled his car and was pulled out minutes before it blew, late last year. While recuperating from a broken arm in Nova Scotia, Brad hooked up with some local lobster fishermen who also happened to be musicians (!!) and the result is this compelling album, arguably the best of his career. The voice is still there, cavernous and resonant, but there's also a newfound looseness to the music and arrangements best exemplified in the laid-back insouciance of the title track and the jazzy Chet Baker trumpet stabs of The Day We Never Met. Roberts has achieved a much more organic sound on this record than ever before and it suits him. Let It Feel Like Something Else is a languorous fisherman's lullaby, Sitting On A Tree Stump is bucolic country, replete with fiddles and dog yelps and Never Comin' Back is a Jimmy Smith organ shuffle via Memphis. As you would expect from his brush with death, there's a newfound acceptance of life's flux in the lyrics but also a resolute mandate to enjoy what there is. There's even humour, Robert's deadpanning "Don't let your car go off the road" on Yer Devil Ways and singing "I shot my daddy in the arm / With morphine / He said he never felt so good in all his goddamn life / So I shot him up just once more for good measure / He never woke up and ever since it's been a mighty peaceful life" on the hilarious, Handsome Family ringer, Shoot 'Em Up, Shoot 'Em Down. The album ends with two luscious, Jimmy Webb-flavoured ballads which are the best things Roberts has ever done: the lovelorn Put Me In A Corner Of Your Mind and the unsettling closer I Never Fall Asleep At Night. There's a vitality and conviviality about this album that makes you think maybe more musicians need to crash their cars once in a while.

Stav Sherez
June-July 2001

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