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CD Review: Joe Pernice

It Feels So Good When I Stop (Ashmont/ Riverhead)

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Released in conjunction with his novel of the same name, Joe Pernice's latest CD features covers of nine songs mentioned in the book, an instrumental by the narrator's fictional band and several spoken excerpts from the novel. Anyone who's appreciated Pernice's previous work will find a lot to love in this collection. It marks a return for Pernice to more straightforward, less ornate arrangements after the increasingly lush efforts of the Pernice Brothers. Largely acoustic, the album is highlighted by a downbeat version of Sammy Johns' "Chevy Van," a spare, elegiac take on Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me" and a sparkling rendition of Del Shannon's "I Go to Pieces," along with tracks by Dream Syndicate, Sebadoh and Tom T. Hall. The song choices and style reflect Pernice's career-long fascination with '70s soft rock and the singer-songwriter genre, which he makes into something pretty, tender and earnest without a lot of emotional pretense. The fast-moving novel follows a twentysomething slacker who leaves his wife for the abandoned New England home of a newly divorced sibling. The story is dotted with musical references and the odd patter of male bonding as Pernice artfully traces the narrator's reconnection with the world. — Chris Parker

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