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First off, how normal is blueberry pie? Serious question. As far as Zen koans go, I'm sticking it right up there with “Why has Bhodi-Dharma left for the East?” or “Why are those car wheels spinning the other way?”

Dwell on that weirdness awhile and get labile enough for a Doris Day tribute. Actually (here's where lability shall prove helpful), you don't need to know much about Doris Day to dig this disc. One open mind you'll need and at least a starting tolerance for swing (the sound, not the Lindy Hoppin' revivalist dancers -- I had my doubts about them too). Ms. McKay (pronounced "MacEye") plays eight different instruments, drags in more-than-capable help on the rest (cf. Jay Berliner, sideman to Charles Mingus and Van Morrison), and always knows where to put everything. She makes it look easy.

True, her immaculate sonic palette doesn't much hint at the perversity of her originals (consult her three previous albums), which gargle any genre you could name from the Great American Songbook to on-the-one funk in the service of elaborate satire. But look carefully at the packaging and you'll see the 27-year-old impresario sporting feet as long as her head. Oh, yes, and almost everything in the booklet is about not eating or otherwise hurting animals (a cause dear to tributer and tributee alike). Then she calls out, “I'm feeling hot as Brian!” in the middle of “Crazy Rhythm.” At least I think it's “I'm feeling hot as Brian!” You got a different idea, put your pie aside and let me know.

  • Album: Normal as Blueberry Pie (2009)
  • Artist: Nellie McKay
  • Label: Verve
  • Songs: (1) The Very Thought of You (2) Do Do Do (3) Wonderful Guy (4) Meditation (5) Mean to Me (6) Crazy Rhythm (7) Sentimental Journey (8) If I Ever Had a Dream (9) Black Hills of Dakota (10) Dig It (11) Send Me No Flowers (12) Close Your Eyes (13) I Remember You
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Comments

Jeremy Dean Feb. 4, 2010 @ 11:22 p.m.

Well scribed, Sir. I bow at thee.

jdean.

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Russ Lewis Feb. 26, 2010 @ 7:22 p.m.

Thanks, Hamlin. This one woulda gone right past me if it hadn't been for this review; I love her stuff. Check out her two-hour-long concert on the NPR website; it's flat-out amazing.

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