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Silver Jews 

Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (Drag City)

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Back in the day, the Silver Jews were a side project for a couple of Pavement members. These days, it's a full-time band for Nashville singer-songwriter David Berman, who loads his narrative-stuffed cuts with vividly fanciful ("Living in a candy jail, with peppermint bars, peanut-brittle bunk beds, and marshmallow walls") or hauntingly autumnal ("First, life takes time/Then time takes life/Now the next move's up to me") imagery. On the Jews' sixth album, Berman orchestrates mini-panoramas with twangy guitars, plaintive harmonies, and cushioning keyboards that blur the group's folk, country, and rock allegiances. Best: "We Could Be Looking for the Same Thing," featuring a winsome chorus and trebly western-movie guitar motif that makes Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea sound a little like a heavenly Waylon Jennings, Jimmy Webb, and Scott Walker collaboration.

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