Listen Up: Wednesday, August 4, 2004
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Lauren Fine

Paper Airports (Self-released)

By Jimmy Fowler

The release of singer-songwriter Lauren Fine’s full-length debut, Paper Airports, is a bittersweet affair for the fan base she’s built. Fine is heading north to study medicine at the University of Pennsylvania while the rest of us pursue a crush or another beer or our car keys underneath desk papers. She has the preternatural self-possession and sincerity to be the first woman president. (Although who’d wish a U.S. presidency on anyone at this point?) What the world needs now is sweet, smart tunes, and as she puts her musical career on the back burner, Fine has left us with a parting gift of such tunes in abundance, on the gorgeous, rueful Paper Airports. Produced by the Pipes Brothers (Hi-Fi Drowning, John Price, Drowning Pool), these 10 originals plus one cover balance amiable autobiography and forthright intimacy -- Fine the lyricist has no problem chatting us up about her childhood home ("4702 Pinehurst Drive") and her roadside purchases ("Conoco"), then staring us down with challenges to our devotion (the sublime, piano-based reveries about abandonment, "Where Were You Tonight" and "Honesty"). Fine the singer commands your ears with a straightforward, bemused simplicity that’s startling in a pop music world where so many vocalists affect Muppety mannerisms to stand out. She has too much to convey to let voice tics thwart her: "Doncha bring me diamonds and gold / I just wanna feel the dirty of your soul," goes the romantic overture in "Dirt of Your Soul." It may not be necessary to cover Paul Simon’s "Slip Slidin’ Away," but she makes it seem like a damn good idea, especially since her exquisite reading of the opening verses reminds us of Simon’s lyrical precision. Paper Airports proves Fine is capable of so much that the producers sometimes treat her like a show pony -- she’s nearly obscured by intrusive sonic bows and ribbons such as digital fingersnaps, ethereal multi-tracked choruses, etc. As area listeners can attest, Lauren Fine with a tight, simpatico backing band -- or alone with guitar or keyboard -- creates her own special effects.



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