don't you tell me how i feel.

this time it’s personal by v

For the longest time I couldn’t understand the appeal of Eleanor Friedberger. I wasn’t into the Fiery Furnaces or her solo stuff — there was something about her delivery that I found off-putting. BUT that was before I heard Personal Record. And suddenly, that unnervingly direct approach became charming.

Here, Friedberger comes off as a modern-day troubadour, dropping you into stories with neurotic characters and mundane detail to spare. On “My own World,” for example, she’s clipping coupons and “looking at foods for dates of expiry.” It’s refreshing, simple, and guitar-driven, with interesting touches throughout — a clarinet on “I Am the Past,” a warm organ on opener “I Don’t Want to Bother You.”

Later, I discovered the reason for this seeming departure from her previous work: In a recent interview with the Guardian, Friedberger explained that the album was cowritten with the novelist John Wesley Harding — hence the specific narratives and the occasional male perspective (see “When I Knew,” which describes falling in love with a kooky girl in overalls). Aha!

Consider me converted.


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