Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Other Music on Patrick Cleandenim

New York City's premier independent music store Other Music has been heaping praise on Baby Comes Home

"Looks like Ba Da Bing!'s got quite a knack for discovering young up-and-coming crooners, what with the 2006 success story of Zach Condon (a/k/a Beirut) and his gypsy folk-inspired indie pop and now, a year later, Patrick Cleandenim, who's just released this surprisingly ambitious debut. Like Condon, it's impossible not to be impressed with the songwriting chops of this 22-year-old who possesses a voice that sounds to be a natural cross between Rufus Wainwright and Todd Rundgren. But rather than going to the Balkans for musical inspiration this Lawrence, Kansas native sticks a little closer to home, delivering a swinging piano-driven full-length that's much more American-influenced, with strong elements of Tin Pan Alley, Burt Bacharach, and Rat Pack-era orchestration thanks to his lively 12-piece backing band.

In this day and age, it would be easy to imagine all of these pieces of the puzzle coming together as some sort of ironic pastiche better suited for the '90s-era bachelor pad, but Baby Come Home stays faithful to the form and remains perfectly suited for these modern times as well. The self-titled opening track kicks the album off with the same swagger as "(You Give Me) Fever," but Cleandenim and his band quickly turn the song into a jaunty, sexy number involving vampires and werewolves. On the surface, his lyrics are simple and romantic, but his gift is turning easy rhymes into detailed stories with plenty of dark twists. "Cognac and Caviar" sounds like a plot lifted from an old Thin Man movie, where Cleandenim plans the murder of his love interest's boyfriend -- "I'll put poison in his cognac and caviar" -- following up with the promise that "if you can find a hideaway, I'll take you there." The crown jewel of Baby Come Home is surely "Days Without Rain," a dramatically lush psych-pop song with dense harmonies and waltzing strings that head for the cinematic scope of Jean-Claude Vannier. Meanwhile, Cleandenim uses the song title as an effective, heartbreaking metaphor, where he begs his lover to come home in the morning, "before our love begins to dry away."

I honestly can't imagine how Patrick Cleandenim will ever be able to follow this work up, as debuts of this caliber are pretty rare. No use worrying about that now, however, as this album has far from overstayed its welcome in my CD player. Baby Come Home is one of those records that reveals itself a little more with each listen, and I'm still listening. " Gerald Hammill

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