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Be Careful What You Wish For...

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Album Review

Despite her proficiency on sitar, theremin, ukulele, toy piano, and accordion, not to mention a voice somewhat similar to Tiny Tim on helium, Gabby La La is more than simply a novelty act. Her debut album, produced by Primus man Les Claypool and released on his label, is a love-it-or-hate-it affair with La La trilling her way through childlike but strangely effective singalong tunes about golden fleas, "Butter and Eggs," and little fortune cookies. Claypool produces, engineers, and is the disc's only other musician, playing bass and percussion. Whimsical, strange, even avant-garde and psychedelic at times, La La will either intrigue listeners or alienate them. But those who dismiss her as a one-note joke just too strange to stomach are missing out on a wildly inventive, creative musician with a vision that is admittedly pretty far from the commercial mainstream. Even Primus fans might have difficulty warming up to La La's singsongy, quavering warble, offbeat instrumentation, and lyrically simplistic approach. A version of Roy Orbison's "In Dreams," the album's only cover, out-weirds even the original as the singer plays it as straight as possible, accompanying herself on accordion. The disparate elements somehow congeal on "Boogie Woogie Man in a Black Dress," a capricious nightmare that features La La double-tracking her vocals to impressive effect as Claypool contributes just the right combination of thumping bass and clicking percussion to highlight the song's bizarre, often dark lyrics. Adjectives such as "idiosyncratic," "quirky," and "eccentric" are easy references but don't capture the buoyant Day-Glo flavor of this album. La La is such a captivating, bubbly, and commanding presence and seems to be enjoying herself so unconditionally that the disc can't help but produce a smile on the grouchiest face. Certainly not for everyone, this remains an intriguing and sometimes inexplicably enjoyable first effort from an artist whose distinctive vision and cartoonish approach might make her a cult figure with a future.

Be Careful What You Wish For..., Gabby La La
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