Carolyn Mark And The New Best Friends

The Pros And Cons Of Collaboration

> > Jun 2004

Carolyn Mark And The New Best Friends - The Pros And Cons Of Collaboration
By Vish KhannaAnyone who’s seen Carloyn Mark perform live can appreciate the irony of her last album’s title, Terrible Hostess. Really there’s no roots-country chanteuse as engaging as Mark, whose well-intentioned banter is capable of making even the sourest puss at a show crack a smile. And even if she can’t win everybody over, it sure is fun watching Mark try her darnedest to in between weaving heartfelt ballads with stream-of-consciousness folk tales that sound like they were lifted from the workbook of a seasoned comedienne. Translating that live energy onto record seemed effortless on Mark’s previous albums and a similar mission is accomplished on her sparkling new collection, Pros and Cons. Recording with a mix of previous and new collaborators (including usual suspects Tolan McNeil and Ford Pier, as well as "newer” friends Kelly Hogan and Paul Pigat), Mark’s new album can be a boisterous affair at times, a musician’s party come to life. Not surprisingly, much of the lyrical content of album features Mark’s eagle-eye songwriting skewed through a filter of booze, sex, cooking, more booze, and rock’n’roll. From the self-explanatory "2 Days Smug and Sober (Bourbon Decay),” to the fears of any conscientious houseguest in "Chantal and Leroy” ("Would I see them lying naked on my way to the can/Still in position?/Leroy waking up to Chantal going down”), Mark’s confessionals are truly endearing. While "Vincent Gallo” and the hilarious incredulity of "The Wine Song” (where Mark wonders, "How can you love a man who drinks white wine?”) are worth a chuckle, by the beautiful "Hangover” Mark has her listeners — drunks and teetotalers alike — in her pocket for good.
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