Music » CD Reviews

Shivaree

Who's Got Trouble? (Zoe)

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Too obscure to qualify as false advertising, a shivaree -- courtesy of our Acadian countrymen -- is an American variation on the French charivari, a drunken wedding revel. The band name nevertheless belies the precise adult pop that Ambrosia Parsley, Duke McVinnie, and Danny McGough craft in their Los Angeles digs.

If any boozing went on during the recording of Who's Got Trouble?, Shivaree must be wired like WKRP's Johnny Fever, whose reflexes got sharper the more he drank. The album's calibrated blues, samba, and cabaret-pop is the professionally off-kilter stuff that Elvis Costello has made his recent stock-in-trade. The arrangements are tasteful, and Parsley's burnished-brass vocals are a sweet relief when the music starts sounding intellectual.

But for those of us who are not budding sophisticates, the greatest reward comes at album's end, with a pair of tunes pop-simple enough to make you wonder whose gorgeous hooks are being relegated to the back of the bus. Whichever member of the trio it is, he/she should seriously think about liquoring up the other two next time around.

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