Review for Poor People On TV!
The New York Daily News, by Jim Farber,Sunday, August 5th 2007,
Good satirists deliver brutal observations with a wink. They're ruthless as analysts, but blithe as storytellers. Julia Douglass navigates that balance expertly on her new CD, "Poor People on TV." The disk finds this brainy New Yorker tipping society's sacred cows with a sly delight.
It helps that Douglass' vocals seldom signal the snarkiness of her lyrics. As clear-voiced and high-pitched as a schoolgirl, she delivers her songs in the earnest deadpan you might expect from a far drearier writer. And that only makes her songs funnier and subtler than they'd otherwise be. It also inoculates them against any lick of smugness. She matches her impish lyrics and light voice to pretty little folk-rock tunes.
The singer-songwriter debuted in 1998 with the homespun disk "Fetish for the Underdog." She followed that with 2002's "In Scarsdale," which housed vivid tales of neurosis. In one song she imagined herself exiled from the East Village to the suburbs, where she spends all day drinking to shut out the din of her kids, who hate her. In another song, she recounts an awful blind date with a telling title: "There's a Reason He's Single."
The new CD works more social politics in with her personal tales. In the title track, Douglass skewers our collective lust for gawking at TV shows about the sad shenanigans of unfortunates. She terms this rampant brand of electronic rubbernecking "an economic minstrel show."
In "Scared to Have Kids," Douglass writes of wildly overpaid corporate types who use NAFTA as an excuse to can half their staffs. In "Free Pancakes," she ranks on rich people who pay big bucks to act like kids in contrived adult games. Douglass gets that feeling for free.
In fact, the disk finds the singer frequently alluding to her favorite juvenile activities, from making prank phone calls to toilet-papering lawns. Apparently, she's as much a scamp as a satirist.
Douglass continues to show her flair for character pieces in "My Boyfriend Is a Genius." Here, a woman keeps making excuses for her socially imploded blowhard of a mate, inflating herself in the process. Likewise, the character in "It's Good Again" forgives her macho slug of a boyfriend anything. But Douglass nails him. "If his team loses he goes ballistic/pillow talk for him is baseball statistics," goes one tart assessment.
The singer shows her heart in "Thank You," an ode to a friend, now dead, who taught her the value of laughing at yourself and the world. But even here she puts in the boot at one point with a sly dig at Billy Joel.
It's that seesaw of sweet and sour that makes Douglass so valuable. If she keeps up that balance, who knows? One day, she might even become the Loudon Wainwright of her generation. ---Jim Farber
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produced by Steve Addabbo
Available now from (Smirk Records)at cdbaby.com click here to order
produced and recorded and mixed by Steve Addabbo, Shelter Island Sound, New York City
Julia, vocals, rhythm guitar