On the up side, Christine Lavin's eighth album, Please Don't Make Me Too Happy, includes three hilarious stand-up monologues thinly disguised as folksongs. "Oh No" resembles a Lucille Ball routine where the comedienne can't find her glasses, her purse, or her phone book. "Waiting for the B Train" is a slice-of-life, absurdist narrative from the New York subway system, and the album's title track is a wonderfully exaggerated worry-fest about growing too contented to write meaningful folksongs. On the down side, the album's other nine songs are eye-glazingly earnest. On "Jane," she turns a reunion with a long-lost friend into a smug, humorless put-down of housewives everywhere. On "The Sixth Floor," a song about the Kennedy Museum in Dallas, Lavin manages to make the most controversial historical event of her lifetime deadly dull. Several numbers about the single life wallow in self-pity. And teaming up with musicians who have played with the Band, Nanci Griffith, Bryan Adams, the Max Weinberg Seven, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra doesn't flesh out Lavin's notoriously thin music so much as it exposes just how limited a singer she is. --Geoffrey Himes
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(3 out of 5 stars)
"The great thing about buying a Christine Lavin album (I guess I'm dating myself by using the word "album") is that even her worst efforts have at least one incredible song that so applies to you and the way that you feel (or once felt) that you just HAVE to own it, and then play that song over and over, until you've memorized the song, then you play another thousand times, just so you can sing along, and if you're lucky, you end up feeling a little better, even if you didn't realize that you even really felt all that bad in the first place! On this lp, that song is "Jagged Hearts". The others range from "ok" to "pretty good", and for you that one "great" song may be a totally different one, but Christine Lavin is one of those very rare artists that you can always count on to give you (at the very least) one song that you will never forget. How many others can you say that about?"