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California Years

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Album Review

Singer/songwriter Jill Sobule, who "Kissed a Girl" far more convincingly than Katy Perry in 1995, raised the money for her seventh full-length album through fan donations. That she managed to meet her projected target of $75,000 (recording, manufacturing, distribution, and promotion) in fewer than three months says more about the state of the music industry in the late 2000s than any RIAA lawsuit or major-label meltdown ever could. Artists build the fire but it's the fans who keep it lit, something Sobule knows well, as she promised each of her rock & roll philanthropists a gift proportionate to their donation (free album download, sit in on a recording session, album group vocal appearance). Like her late friend (and occasional bandmate) Warren Zevon, Sobule has a blade in one hand and flowers in the other, and her songs are always rooted to a simple and effective melody. California Years finds the Denver-born, transplanted New Yorker celebrating her adopted West Coast with typical wit, grace, irony, sweetness, and satire, simultaneously extolling the state's penchant for free-spirited idealism ("San Francisco," "Palm Springs") and ripping it a new one for its shallow, self-absorbed celebrity culture ("Nothing to Prove," "Spiderman"). In between, it's the usual semi-biographical cast of characters who inhabit every Sobule album: death ("Empty Glass"), amiable hedonists ("A Good Life"), first loves ("Wendell Lee"), and quirky adventurers ("Mexican Pharmacy"), all of whom come stocked with a slowly diminishing Northeast accent that can be both sweet and wicked, depending on whose audience they find themselves addressing.


Born: 1961 in Denver, CO

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter Jill Sobule rose to fame on the strength of her 1995 hit single "I Kissed a Girl," a tongue in cheek nod to the media's fascination with "lesbian chic." Born in Denver, CO in 1961, Sobule grew enamored of rock music at a young age, but did not seriously consider a career as a performer until she spent her junior year of college abroad in Spain. Upon her return to the U.S., she dropped out of school to devote her full energies to music, but her work found little success as she battled...
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California Years, Jill Sobule
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