Cake And Pie

Lisa Loeb

A & M Records, 2002

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/25/2002

For Lisa Loeb, her hit song "Stay" has been both a blessing and a curse. Yes, Loeb became the first unsigned artist to top the Billboard singles charts (thanks to its inclusion on the Reality Bites soundtrack), but ever since, it's felt like Loeb has been either trying to repeat that success or has been chasing after it.

Cake And Pie, the third full-length effort from Loeb (and her first in about five years) suggests that Loeb is finally beginning to feel comfortable with her role as a singer-songwriter without the need to repeat "Stay". Yet she comes off sounding a bit rusty after all this time.

For the most part, the "frightened little girl" vocal style that drove "Stay" and Loeb's subsequent hit "Do You Sleep?" seems to be put on the shelf, rearing its head only when things get incredibly bogged down in their own pretentiousness. Instead, we're treated to the sound of a wonam who has grown in many ways over the past few years - though, as one can hear in the should-be single "We Could Still Belong Together," not much has changed on the romantic front. This particular song does continue a pattern which Loeb started with "I Do" off her last album nbtc__dv_250 Firecracker, in that she moves out of the pop-rock sound and dares to put some musical oomph behind her. It works well. Likewise, the XTC-like guitar line on "You Don't Know Me" is sheer brilliance; too bad the weak chorus sinks this one.

Loeb also tries to call attention to anorexia in the album's closer "She's Falling Apart". It's interesting in that she's able to get the message across without clubbing the listener over the head with preachy messages - that said, I do wish this one had offered some ray of hope (maybe in the form of suggesting there is help) rather than simply painting the bleak picture of how this disease affects those who love the person suffering from it. Still, Loeb's heart was in the right place.

For all the strengths of Cake And Pie, there's far too many weak moments that drag this disc down. "Drops Me Down" is far too sleepy of a song, losing the listener almost from the moment it starts. Likewise, "Kick Start" needs a kick, all right - though I could argue for one in the songwriting, one in the energy level, and one in the incredibly bland lyrics. "Bring Me Up" is a track which I'm not certain just what Loeb was trying to do with it, but it lacks any real catchiness, while "Everyday" is a track which needs to grow on the listener (though I'll still argue the repeating of the song's title in the chorus is annoying).

All of this said, Cake And Pie does turn out to be Loeb's best album to date - having listened to Tails and Firecracker before writing this review, I know. But for all the promise that this disc holds in its outstanding tracks, there's enough to show that Loeb still hasn't reached the upper echelon of singer-songwriters yet.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2002 Christopher Thelen 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 A & M Records, and is used for informational purposes only.