There's Always Room for Erin and Her Cello

Petits Bisous
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Attitude can be a curse or a blessing, but in the hands and voice of New York City-based Erin Hall it's a very good thing indeed. Like early Christine Lavin, Ms. Hall offers a collection of urbane, quirky, and insouciant observations of life, the city, and the crazy patchwork quilt called popular culture. But whereas Lavin was/is a folkie, Hall draws water from other wells: early 60s girl groups, vintage French pop songs, jazz, calypso, blues, and rock and roll. You never quite know what is coming next. Erin and Her Cello is the name of Hall's band and she does indeed play a bit of cello, but you'll also hear everything from boogie-woogie piano to glockenspiel.  

"2 Good 2 B True" has a Twittery name, but its musical core is that of girl groups, complete with oooh-aaahh backup singers. Hall wields her saucy little-girl vocal tones like a club she's been hiding behind her back. The clever and wry "The Doctor" also has a girl group feel, but the instrumentation is 50s style rockabilly, complete with a wailing sax. That's one of several songs that drapes satire with charm; another "Break Dancin' Man," has the tongue-in-cheek sardonic approach of trend send-ups such as Rick Dees' "Disco Duck." And we know that Hall isn't afraid to wield a lampoon harpoon; check her "Google Stock."

The above songs only scratch the surface (of vinyl, if you prefer) of this album's offbeat nature. Hall's musical inspirations include Peggy Lee, Cole Porter, and Serge Gainsborough and each gets an airing. Want some smoky, soulful, cool jazz? Try "Chaz." Prefer it with some black-note keys, a whiff of danger, and some tongue-twisting vocals? Check out "Damn." If that doesn't float you boat, how some Gainsborough-like French pop–in French no less ("Bonbons Chocolat" and the call-and-whistle title track)? How about some bouncy pop? Inappropriate attraction has never been so giddy as "Rebound Magnet." Too sweet for your taste? Try the rock shit-kicker "Walk of Fame." 

It's been a while since I reviewed a new release that's this much fun. Nor has dusting off the past sparkled with so much wit. Score one for attitude.—Rob Weir

PS: The YouTube videos aren't the best quality, but I think they show you what I mean.

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