Carolyn Mark And The New Best Friends The Pros And Cons Of Collaboration

Anyone 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. (Mint)