Bridge and Tunnel
Linda Draper makes folk music of the best sort: lighthearted and charming with firmly grounded melodies and honest, straightforward lyrics with a poetic yet realistic slant. Bridge and Tunnel's opening track, “Limbo,” is a good indication of what’s to come. It’s a slow yet fairly upbeat tune with understated organ, acoustic guitar, drums, and electric bass and showcases her lovely voice, particular on the drawn-out vocals of the refrain.
An echoing chorus, upright bass, and an irreverent attitude distinguish “Sharks and Royalty,” while Draper’s vocal, which teeters on the edge of a breathy soprano, is showcased on the chiming “I Will.” The peppy “Time Will Tell” stands out for its jaunty beat; muted bells and chimes contribute to its jazzy feel. Her clever lyrics are amply displayed here too: “Everybody else needs somebody else who/got something more than them to lose.” And the rhymes trip off her tongue on “Broken Eggshell,” an appealing upbeat tune. “Every corner that meets/there’s two more empty streets/I’ve been walking down.”
The slow and plaintive “Close Enough” is a change of pace and deals with a troubled long-distance relationship. Draper’s cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Mother’s Little Helper” is noticeably different from the rest of the songs. It is essentially a cappella, with Draper’s chanted vocals accompanied only by tambourines. While I don’t know what Mick Jagger et. al. had in mind as the “helper” in 1966, today’s audiences will undoubtedly think of Prozac. The tongue-in-cheek lyrics and oddly echoing vocal create a jarring though enjoyable ambiance, and describe the life of a disaffected housewife with an uncanny immediacy. The more things change, the more they stay the same, she seems to be commenting with this song choice.
The tracks on Bridge and Tunnel are deceptively simple at first, but upon repeated listening they get under your skin and you find yourself humming along. Draper’s vulnerable yet clear-sighted persona makes it easy to relate to her music, and her voice carries the album.