The Designer’s Drugs: Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under

Medium: Album

Stimulus: Amanda Palmer – Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under

Anno: 2011

 

This collection of Australian-themed tunes features Amanda Palmer mixing her signature foul-mouthed piano cabaret with her recent attraction to the ukulele.  Alternating between live tracks and crowdless songs of varying levels of production, the album as a whole has a feeling of incredible inconsistency that gives Down Under a veneer not unlike that of a stand-up comedy record.

The live tracks in particular are pure personality, featuring Palmer baiting and prodding and joking with the crowd.  At some points the monologue and asides get so thick (“Vegemite” is a particularly vehement and wonderful offender) that it seems that she forgets that she was in the middle of a song.  Yet the resulting effect is not derailment; instead, Palmer’s whimsy gives the show a spontaneity and warmth that most live recordings lack.

Of course, it helps that the music’s good.  Aside from a single track, the synthy and slick “Map of Tasmania,” the orchestration on these songs is minimal.  A few friends guest on certain songs, but Down Under largely runs on the sole strength of Palmer’s voice and instrument of the moment.  And that works out rather well.

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