"First, thoughts on the DualDisc format: it's pretty cool. My car's CD player won't play the CD, which is a bummer, but all my other players spin it fine, so it's not that big a bummer. As for the DVD side of the disc, well, the highlight is the 5.1 surround mix of the album itself. The sound is fantastic. The bonuses are: a very good (but brief -- only 26 minutes) concert film, including two new songs; and two studio recordings from the period between the release of the album and the fall '04 presidential election. Both of those last two songs are great, and deal with politics in a totally un-heavy-handed manner. At the same time, it's clear that McKay is dissatisfied with the current administration, as well as the choices we had to replace it.
Now, the album. Well, it's awesome. McKay (it's pronounced "Mick-Kigh," apparently, by the way) is obviously a talented woman, and the talent sometimes threatens to get out of her control. But it never does, even on a track like "Sari," a hip-hop track that really ought not to work but totally does. Every song is good, but my particular favorites are "Ding Dong" (the catchiest song about suicide ever written), "Change the World," "Manhattan Avenue," and the hilarious "Clonie," in which McKay's lyrical wit is at its keenest.
I liked this album an awful lot when I bought it in the spring of 2004; now, a year later, it's even better. It's one of those albums that doesn't give over all its secrets at once. It rewards attention. There aren't too many artists who do that, and there are NONE who do it in so many ways. By turns funny, yearning, subversive, cynical, and sincere, this is a seriously good piece of work, and if the next one comes out tomorrow, then it isn't a moment too soon."
A promising start
Isaac Laughlin | 07/11/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I like this album. I've listened to it a lot since I bought it. That being said, Ms. McKay has emerged onto the scene with this album as a promising talent, not as a brilliant fully-formed artist.
At her best (the opening track David) is a good example, McKay does what certainly qualifies as "rocking" her driving piano playing and strong feeling for pop-melody is absolutely electric. There are some over produced tracks on this two disc set ("Sari" is one) where Ms. McKay is taken out of the driver's seat and placed in front of a heavily produced pop-backdrop, and these tracks lack the personality of the tracks which Ms.McKay is allowed to lead.
Emotionally this album produces some rocky-terrain too, alternating -sometimes jarringly- between catchy pop melodies ("The Dog Song") and an authentic and passionate sense of angst ("Inner Peace"). There's no reason that Ms. McKay can't do both of these things, and perhaps the order of the songs is partially to blame for the uneveness, but somehow there's the sense that she hasn't quite found exactly what she wants to say and how she wants to say it.
My favorite moments on the record are those when Ms. McKay is less than straightforward; "I Wanna Get Married" is a work of demure irony. Other times, she is so direct that at the end of the 4 minute track it's hard not to be a little disappointed that her lyrics are so transparent and understandable.
You should buy this album because because it represents the hopeful first step in what promises to be a career whose best works are surely yet to come. This album's youthful exuberance, passion and lack of restraint offer certain charms, which I hope will only become more precious when considered with an expanded body of work which becomes more focused."
The concert video is excellent
Wade Smith | Stony Brook, NY USA | 06/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This release makes the original release somewhat obsolete. This contains all of the songs from the original on side A - in cd format, and and 25 minute video of Nellie McKay on side B. (Side B also contains two b-sides, and a useless surround version of the album - all of side B requires a DVD player).
Nellie is quite magnetic on stage, I wish that this concert contained more of her silly banter between songs, there's only about 2 minutes of that. But if you want a record of her live, this is excellent."
Even more from the great Nellie McKay
noelle | Seattle | 04/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Congratulations if you're here on this page, and you're reading about Nellie - she is worth your attention. If you've never heard her songs before, spend the extra few bucks and get this dual disc. It showcases what is perhaps her greatest strength - her ability to dazzle and charm (and educate) a live audience, with all the humble confidence she can muster. Although the live show is all too short, you can't imagine how talented this person is until you watch her play the piano like someone who's got more years of experience than she has years. And I say this as a pianist - and a very humbled fan of Nellie McKay. (Why humbled? Here's a direct quote of credits from the jacket of this album: "All Vocals, Piano, Organ, Recorder, Vibes, Chimes, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Synthesizer, Additional Percussion: Nellie McKay.") And oh, by the way, when she made this album with legendary (Beatles) producer Geoff Emerick, she was 21.
This is one of the best albums to come along in years. Do yourself a favor and find out why people like me are spending the time to write 5-star reviews."
She's a nut--but a colorful, genuine nut
jon sieruga | Redlands, CA USA | 04/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Nellie McKay(the M.C .on the DVD pronounces it "Mc-eye")has an unplaceable accent, a faraway glint in her scheming eyes, and a tart sense of humor that catches you totally unawares. She's an honest-to-God original, and a breath of fresh air in these calculated-pop times. Her music careens between different inspirations, and she's juggles them all like a pro. My favorites are the whimsical "David", the plaintive "Really", the humorous/serious "I Wanna Get Married" and the comical "Clonie". "Married" really epitomizes McKay--sardonic, rueful, but wistful and longing. You can hear the yearning in her voice even as she spouts scattershot poetry. The DVD is a wonderful(but brief)concert in San Francisco, and her in-between patter is constantly surprising. You never know where she's gonna take you."