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Carolyn Mark – Terrible Hostess

Posted by September 5th, 2003 No Comments »

Carolyn Mark – Terrible Hostess
Mint Records
By Adam Lawrence, Managing Editor

Canadian singer/songwriter Carolyn Mark returns this year with the follow up to her first solo album, 2000’s Party Girl, and has managed to eclipse her previous output with Neko Case as the Corn Sisters and this year’s Tribute to The Nashville Soundtrack. Mark keeps the infectious spirit of her previous work at the forefront of Terrible Hostess.

It’s a step forward in her unique songwriting and performance style. Party Girl was meticulously pieced together from mostly impromptu sessions across Canada, and the record certainly reflects the differences between each locale. Terrible Hostess benefits from a more stable studio sound, while at the same time capturing the giddy feel of Mark’s live show.

Carolyn Mark – Terrible Hostess
Mint Records
By Adam Lawrence, Managing Editor

Canadian singer/songwriter Carolyn Mark returns this year with the follow up to her first solo album, 2000’s Party Girl, and has managed to eclipse her previous output with Neko Case as the Corn Sisters and this year’s Tribute to The Nashville Soundtrack. Mark keeps the infectious spirit of her previous work at the forefront of Terrible Hostess.

It’s a step forward in her unique songwriting and performance style. Party Girl was meticulously pieced together from mostly impromptu sessions across Canada, and the record certainly reflects the differences between each locale. Terrible Hostess benefits from a more stable studio sound, while at the same time capturing the giddy feel of Mark’s live show.

Principle Room-mates (those Canadians and their hyphens!) include Garth Johnson and Tolan McNeil, Mark’s real life cohabitants and touring buddies. They do plenty to match her enthusiasm, and the album is better for their presence. McNeil’s “Catscan” is included to showcase his fine songwriting abilities, a fitting compliment to his whimsical brush drumming.

Terrible Hostess reflects Mark’s whirlwind social life. The songs extol the virtues of Mark and her boys’ infamous party-throwing skills, an excellent compliment to the carnivalesque style of the music. She reluctantly drags herself out of bed in “Fuzzy Slippers”, describes her fantasy day on “Gopherville” and manages to throw a shindig or two back at the homestead while at the same time deprecating herself to hysterical degrees. She may put on a swell gathering, but she also warns us she can’t be trusted with juicy secrets (“In strictest confidence she recounted the day’s events/And it spread faster than news of an after bar party at our house”) and admitting that her guest’s discretions tick her off (“As the way environmentalists/Always leave the house in such a mess/Saving trees and saving fishes/Saving water but leaving dishes”).

But it’s all in fun. Mark’s strongest asset is her disarming wit, and she always delivers her songs with a nod and a wink. Take notice of her wacky Canadian double entendres (“You could never leave the Province in this state”) and the Man Choir’s contributions, which are damn near Doo Wop.

It’s impossible not to smile while listening to Terrible Hostess, and as soon as the hootenanny “Country In The City” closes the album, you’ll want to start all over again. Luckily the whole thing is almost criminally short, one more reason to leave it in the CD player for a while. (8/10)

Be a good hostess


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