The title track adorns minimalist beats with Afro-Cuban flourishes and a smooth-as-silk autobiographical flow from Kweli. "This is what's going through my mind right about now," he rap/croons. The album works best just then, with Kweli's social awareness shining in the moment. There are flashes of brilliant quirkiness -- Kanye-esque sped-up sampling of Ben Kweller's "In Other Words" on a track about Lauren Hill ("Ms. Hill"), for example. Alas, it's ultimately more mix tape than album. Too much freestyle "uh-huh"-ing and "yeah"-ing and too few strong beats make the record feel thin.
It's a good effort. Creating something more, though, would have required a release date Right About Several Months From Now. But that title wouldn't have been as cool. -- Luke Baumgarten
The Silver Jews & lt;a href= & quot;http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=rQy1MLe70wI & amp;offerid=78941.467642312 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Tanglewood Numbers & lt;/a & **** & r & David Berman may be a drunk or a drug abuser -- he may even be disturbed -- but the man is a poet. (Bukowski fans, please take notice.)
The Silver Jews' new album, Tanglewood Numbers, finds Berman at yet another crossroads, this being the first new Jews material in four years. Employing indie stalwarts Stephen Malkmus and the "Bonnie" Prince Billy among others, Berman has crafted an album that's lyrically dark and disturbing while simultaneously offering enough country twang to keep your toes tapping. Tackling drug abuse, depression, romantic follies and suicide, Berman talks freely about issues he has been only hinting at for years. Billed as the band's first "rock album," Tanglewood Numbers doesn't aspire to be a Built To Spill record, exactly. It's probably better to call this lo-fi.
Now the only thing we can hope for is that Berman will leave the studio and start playing out -- something he has only done a dozen times during the last decade or so. - Darcy Caputo