gritty, sarcastic, folkish

Tall Blonde Helicopter (Atlantic)
Francis Dunnery

By Kory Wilcoxson

Tall Blonde Helicopter hardly begins to describe Francis Dunnery, who more resembles a squat, brownhaired pit bull. His music is hardly the flighty fare suggested by his title. Instead, the album is a whirlwind of styles strung together by Dunnery's many talents.

Dunnery's work comes closest to folk music, but lacks any idealistic musings or the homegrown appeal of such a genre. Dunnery's music is instead full of despair, misplaced hopes and survival-struggle stories told in gritty, sarcastic lyrics.

Dunnery played all the instruments and wrote all the songs for the album, giving the music an unflinching sincerity. His distress calls in "48 Hours" and "Only New York Going On" are heart-wrenching, and his troubling lyrics make the experience much more real.

Dunnery is not always a sourpuss, however. His mood and tempo take a considerable leap on "Too Much Saturn," a tongue-in-cheek search for self-actualization that satirically slaps the face of those looking for "inner peace" and "a better way." That same spirit is evident in "l Believe I Can Change My World" and "The Way Things Are."

Not all of the tracks on Tall Blonde Helicopter work, but for the most part, the album showcases both Dunnery's skillful instrumentation and his fresh, biting lyrics. He is at his best when he is adding his two cents worth of social commentary without jumping on a soapbox.