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Sons Of The Never Wrong Link:

Sons Of The Never Wrong

The Sons of the Never Wrong
One If By Hand

2000, Gadfly

The Sons of the Never Wrong are as impossible and contradictory as their name. To begin with, they are Bruce Roper, Sue Demel and Deborah Lader…so much for sons. Bruce has an ironic, deep tall-guy's voice, not the kind you would usually associate with harmony singing. Sue is an octave defying daredevil, whose influences seem to include avante garde classical, Ella Fitzgerald and SONAR. Deborah—and this is not meant as an insult—has a fairly normal voice. These not-made-for-each-other voices sound absolutely wonderful together, pulling off entertaining and unusual harmonies while often singing in slightly different rhythms.

Genre? Daring, blazingly creative musically and lyrically, with a certain theatrical aspect. The point often seems to be to uncover beauty, whether in sadness or silliness. There is a definite Beatlesque flavor to many of their songs, with sweeet acoustic guitar chords, strings, reeds and sound effects gleefully folded into their arrangements. (Of course, when they cover Lennon and McCartney's "Getting Better," it is in a revved-up bluegrass style!)

There is a magical convergence in the songwriting of Bruce and the singing of Sue. Unusual juxtapositions and unexpected images abound in Bruce's writing, whether in the wryly humorous "Madame Butterfly," or the touching "No 1 - 4 Me" "And all it seems the other ones…were finding love and having fun, akimbo was my broken heart…a lariat all torn apart." Sue is a stratospheric vocal whirlwind and an inventive and free-spirited songwriter. You never know where she is going to take the melody or how she will punctuate a phrase. In her "Comet" she pronounces "lonely" as "lone-a-lee" and her distinct vibrato manages to elongate into a satellite beep at the end of the song. She gets way "out there," but she knows where she is going with a vocal range that gets up into dog whistle territory.
Deborah shows a nice feel for the offbeat with her own compositions. In particular, "My Last Boyfriend" hides a few wollups in its deftly comic verses. "You called from the airport when you were travellin' through/ we talked about the last nine years in ten minutes."

Perhaps the most contradictory and enjoyable aspect of this album is the reckless abandon of the performances and the absolutely impeccable sound and arrangement. Bruce, Sue and Deborah seem like they had a good time making this music, yet it is intricate and highly developed—the result of as much perspiration as inspiration. You won't go wrong with this impossibly fine third album from these talented faux-siblings.—Michael Devlin

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