Marisol continues coverage of Thao Nguyen’s Like the Linen:

Thao NguyenLike the Linen (2006), Indie Rock, Trust Me Corporation

Combine the mellowness of those banjo-y/slide guitar, brush drum-filled Norah Jones songs and the raw, slightly-off-key-ness of the voice of Cat Power and you’ve got an idea of Thao Nguyen’s music. Forgive my windy verbage but I don’t know how else to describe this hip-as-folksy-retro compilation of songs.
Like the Linen seems like a self-conscious attempt to remain consistently retro. We’ve got the echo-in-the-studio effect going on in many of her songs which of course which gives off that vintage feel. Upon listening to it all, I feel I get stuck in some past era of a subdued freeness.

I like the casual way the bluesy tunes roll along. Among my favorites is “Turn Century”, where the guitars skillfully move in their bluesy splendor. “Vision in Red” is also among the highlights, what, with the awesome slide guitar and excellent transitionings.

Many of the songs are about love. A lot about love, actually. The lyrics are pretty simple, and I suppose it is consistent with the style. Thao Nguyen’s approach to love betrays of a simplistic naiveté. In “Tallymarks” she sings “But I think I might miss you enough to say so/ And I think I already did/ Well I think I might miss you enough to say so/There you go I just said it again”. In this song I think that sort of simplicity works, but in other parts of the album, it doesn’t.

In Chivalry, the chorus goes, “When I love/ I will love so hard/ harder than when I can love with you/ harder than I could love with you”. The lyrics tend to be the weak point of Thao Nguyen in this album, where I think the self-consciousness of trying to stick to a certain past era, a certain style becomes apparent. Take for another example, “Moped”: “Don’t you dare ride your moped/ to your mother’s house”. I mean, I can’t relate. There’s a sort of feeling I get from the lyrics that Thao Nguyen is trying to adhere to some sort of lifestyle in some far-off, romanticized time or place in a way that makes it hard for the listener to actually relate or really want to.

Nevertheless Thao Nguyen is really really good. The vocals, the guitars, the drums are amazing. The drums are so consistently good in every track, the guitarists are freaking talented and Thao’s voice is perfect for this music. Like Linen is like buttah, of the hand-churned variety.

marisol “not margarine, not parkay, simply buttah” lazaro