Fidelity Is The Enemy

Jim Boggia

Scrapple Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: George Agnos


When I was in college, I went through a phase where I listened to almost nothing but theBeatles and Simon & Garfunkel. I suppose this would not be unusual if my college days were in the 60's, but I went to college in the 80's. Singer/songwriter Jim Boggia, who appears to be younger than me, seems to have gone through the same phase, and if you include The Beach Boys, Todd Rundgren, and Cat Stevens, you have a good chunk of the influences that make up his new CD, Fidelity Is The Enemy.

Boggia plays up the nostalgia element by dividing up the track listing on the CD into two sides, including track 7, which is a snippet asking the listener to turn the record over. Also the CD cover is a young boy listening to a portable record player, while the back cover shows Boggia doing the same, with a bunch of 45's scattered all over the table. However, while the music on Fidelity Is The Enemy is a tribute to the pop, folk, and rock of an earlier era, Boggia proves there are still new wrinkles to this sound.

The CD starts off with "So Full", a heartfelt, acoustic-oriented song that is folk-pop perfection. But wait: fasten your seatbelts because the second track, "Toy Boat," jars the listener and is the one concession to modern music with an alternative rock sounding chorus in what seems to be slight parody as Boggia sings with modern day angst, "Say Toy Boat/Fast Three Times/In A Row/I'm Tongue Tied".my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

While that may be a rocky beginning, the rest of Fidelity Is The Enemy deftly balances between soulfulness and technique, much like fellow Pennsylvanian Todd Rundgren did on his classic Something/Anything. On the technique side, you have the bouncy "Bubblegum 45's", which surely would have been a hit at a time when songs became popular because of their catchy melodies. His Rundgrenesque sense of humor shows up on the bonus track which I will call "Humbug" and literally sounds like it could be part of the How The Grinch Stole Christmas soundtrack right down to the "You're A Mean Man, Mr. Grinch" type vocals.

But the most ambitious track is "Peter Pan", an unapologetically psychedelic track that celebrates the playful spirit of the title character. The instruments played on this track include a basketball, a bicycle bell, an indian drum, a slinky, toy piano and flute, and air organ, to create the woozy sound that is topped off with a sample from the Beatles instrumental, "Flying".

OK, that takes care of the Beatles, next comes Simon & Garfunkel with the pretty folk ballad, "Winter" where Boggia sings both parts of the harmony, in different pitches, and steals the guitar part from "Homeward Bound". The Beach Boys? Well, this is where I am a bit peeved. I saw on the track list "Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulders)" from Pet Sounds , but playing the CD, Boggia only gives us twenty seconds of the harmony part. Bummer.

Playing name that tune is enough to make me smile, but what puts Fidelity Is The Enemy over the top for me is Boggia's ability to write strong songs. The lost love ballad "Black And Blue" will break your heart, but there is a sardonic wit at work here to keep the song from becoming maudlin. Boggia also hits the mark in the soulfulness department with "Several Thousand" and "That, For Me, Is You" that show the sunny side of love. Not only are they well-written songs, but Boggia has the vocals to deliver them. I would say his voice resembles a more soulful, less whiney Don Henley.

If those songs show Boggia's sweetness, he also displays a sour side with "O/P", which I presume stands for Optimist/Pessimist because he tells whoever to stop whining and bitching like a pessimist and be an optimist . There's also the playful, slightly bossa nova track, "Nothing Wrong With Me", which defiantly proclaims that the relationship ended because of you, not me.

Fidelity Is The Enemy is a tour-de-force, and quite an amazing CD for a debut. Heck, it's quite an amazing CD, period.

Rating: A-

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© 2002 George Agnos and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Scrapple Records, and is used for informational purposes only.