Reviews

Indigo Girls: Poseidon and the Bitter Bug

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are household names, particularly in lesbian households. With their 11th studio release, a 2-CD album (full-band and acoustic versions), Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, their names will become ever more common.


The Indigo Girls have always held a certain flair for being strong, poetic lyricists and on Poseidon it is no different. Saliers tackles forgotten dreams in “Digging For Your Dream” — the first track on the album — with near-perfect empathy: “Every day that you get up and force your cards. You’re playing your story in fits and starts.”

 

The single paves the way for nine more tracks that emulate the souls embodied in Saliers and Ray. “Sugar Tongue” is a sharp, intelligent denotation of colonialism: “I’ve got the blackest boots, the whitest skin, satisfy my sugar tongue again.” The irony that is love is literally explained in “Love Of Our Lives,” as if it were written in the clouds for everyone to see: “Is there no mastermind of modern day who can blueprint a plan to make love stay.”

By about half-way through the album, the Girls lighten it up a bit with “Driver Education.” With a quirky, yet infectious melody and relatable lyrics, smiles will be cracked each time you hear it: “With soft rock hair and blood shot eyes, he tastes like Marlboro cigarettes and Reese’s peanut butter cups.”

Track six on the album, “Second Time Around” will likely be regarded by Indigo Girls fans and any gay-rights proponents as the best cut on it; the current nauseating turbulence felt by the LGBT community and their allies will be moved to more engaged feelings because of this song: “I got bitten by the bitter bug, and now I just can’t get enough of ill will and my own conceit. I’m weary of the world it seems.” The song is only more enjoyable with the soft, yet twangy banjo.

“Ghost of the Gang” is a moving and misty song of long-lost friendships. Too often, friends drift apart and because they never forget each other, they often suffer regret for it. “So feel my hand reach across and don’t forget where we come from baby ’cause there’s truth in it.”

Though Poseidon is classic Indigo Girls, with its nibbling bluegrass and boot-stomping folk-rock, there’s a little R&B thrown into the mix, and Ray experiments with vocal range and style — both of which, at first, are a bit startling — but by the end of it, it feels perfectly nice.

However, it’s somewhat disappointing that Ray and Saliers don’t sing rounds quite as much — where they harmoniously sing the same lyrics at different intervals — which is a popular signature, if you well.

This is the Girls’ first independently-released album since 1987’s Strange Fire, and it’s pleasantly noticeable. It may be one of their more sombering releases, but it’s by far one of their most heartfelt; honesty just seeps through the speakers. It’s heard deeply in Ray’s wrenched voice in the final track “True Romantic,” a brilliant end to a beautifully expressive album.

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