Ghost of a Dog
Somewhere deep within Edie Brickell lies an Evil Twin, an entity that will go to any length to make this otherwise amiable singer-songwriter sound like an insipid 20-year-old Deadhead with a belated Melanie fixation. The Bad Edie pops up on at least half of Ghost of a Dog, the follow-up to last year’s surprise chart-topper, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars. Unsuspecting listeners will tap their toes along with a clomping bit of folk-rock like ”Black & Blue,” only to find it followed by ”Carmelito,” an ersatz Tex-Mex revenge parable that sounds as if Brickell has watched too many reruns of The Cisco Kid. Likewise, Brickell can write lyrically about the difference between the de-sire for romantic independence and desire itself. But just when she starts to show some grit, she’ll drift toward smiley-faced ditties like ”Oak Cliff Bra” — songs so cloying they make you wonder if Brickell underwent a lobotomy between tracks.
Brickell is one charming space cadet, though. Her sly voice slides into the band’s casual arrangements like someone settling into an easy chair on a back porch. As for the band, New Bohemians are too loose and unfocused — too anonymous, at times — to be riveting. But their slippery boogie, heavy on the slide guitars and percussion, has an offhand friendliness, heard on the sloppy shuffle ”Mama Help Me” or the churning grunge of ”Stwisted.” All told, there’s enough on Ghost of a Dog to grant these careerist bohemians their success. But Brickell had best gain control over her brain-dead self — before, like Melanie, she starts lighting candles onstage and singing about brand new keys. B-