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Jon Auer | 6½ (Pattern 25)
It's been somewhat confusing for Posies fans since the band supposedly broke up soon after the release of their last studio album 'Success' back in 1998. In fact they seem as active now as they ever did. Since the alleged break up, they have released no less than two live albums, a box set, a best of and most recently an EP of new material 'Nice Cheekbones and a PhD.' That's fairly prolific output under any circumstances, let alone from a band that theoretically no longer exists. It would seem that Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow's partnership is of a much more permanent nature than either of them could have realised when they first began working together back in the mid 80s. In contrast to Stringfellow, who has kept himself extremely busy with extracurricular activities, both since and even before the Posies announced their split, Jon Auer has, through either choice or accident, maintained a much lower profile. '6½' is his first release post-Posies to be released in the U.S. although an EP and single were released in Europe on the Spanish Houston Party label a year or so ago. Electing again for a work of shorter duration, this time a selection of cover versions of some of his favourite songs, '6½' may be a relatively short, encompassing as it does just 7 tracks, but it's a major achievement in terms of quality irrespective of its brevity. The slightly ambiguous title refers to the number of tracks contained therein, with the ½ representing a fine instrumental version of Serge Gainsbourg's Bonnie & Clyde. Auer handles almost all of the instrumental duties himself on the diverse and intriguing songs he has chosen for the project. Featuring, amongst others, takes of the Chameleons Tears, Swervedriver's These Times, Husker Dü's Green Eyes, and perhaps most surprisingly Madonna's Beautiful Stranger, which is arranged in mesmerising style for acoustic guitar and cello, Auer has adapted and transformed these songs to those of his own. This is an achievement that can be attributed as much to his warm and vulnerable voice as to the subtle rearrangements and changes of pace of the songs and if we were talking scores, then perhaps '6½' would be a less befitting title than the more appropriate 10 would be. With the increasing regularity that the Posies seem to be either releasing music or performing live these days it's unlikely that they're planning to throw in the towel any day soon, which is a comforting thought, but should they do so a solo career for Jon Auer, on the basis of this fine collection seems poised for launch.