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Green’s grown up

Simon Batten

Adam Green & Binki Shapiro
‘Adam Green & Binki Shapiro’
Rounder Records
29 January 2013
 (UK)


We have all done silly things in our twenties. Very few of us, however, have made as much of a success out of that silliness as Adam Green has done throughout the course of his third decade. Always entertaining and irreverent, at times bitchy and stinging, his tales of the seedier side of New York ‘show business’ were no less catchy and enjoyable for all of their, well, silliness.

From the opening bars of Here I Am it becomes apparent that Green, in his first record since the turn of his thirties, has decided once and for all to do a serious album. He teams up with Binki Shapiro, who had previously been known as a multi-instrumental collaborator with various New York chic outfits such as the Strokes and Devendra Banhart. Alongside Green, however, it is her clear and colourful voice that takes centre stage. Any fears that the album would be far too cool for school are washed away as a Velvet Underground-esque cascade of ‘Ahs’ usher in a charming acoustic ditty with well-judged arrangements and the underpinnings of Green’s distinctively droll delivery.

The stand-out track is undoubtedly Casanova. With its sweeping and achingly beautiful melodies, it could easily be a lost Nancy Sinatra classic and instantly brings to mind Nancy’s The End from her Nancy In London album. Even the lyrics have a more mature feel: “Why are you always finding/New ways of wasting my time?/Why are you always hiding?/Am I not supposed to look you in the eye?” It would appear that Adam has grown up! This from the man who told us that “there’s no wrong way to fuck a girl with no legs”.

And that is, essentially, that. The following tracks on the album (with the exception of the UK bonus track Wait Until You Go) are largely as forgettable as the first three are moving and delightful. Although they are written and produced in a similar late 60s pop vein to the opening tracks, there is a feeling of flatness that pervades the middle and latter parts of the album, almost as if the creators had spent themselves early on and then run out of ideas.

One is left with a sense of missed opportunity. Having found two voices that match and a classic/modern pop sound that suits them so well, it is a real shame that they could not find within them two or three more noteworthy songs, or that spark of the unexpected which was such a feature of Green’s previous output, to lift this album out of mediocrity. It is undeniable that the two possess the talent to deliver, but we might just have to wait for their second attempt before that potential is realised.

Simon Batten is a singer songwriter based in Oxford. His latest album, Unsettled Weather can be found here.

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