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A Good Woman Is Hard To Find EP

[Hit City U.S.A. / Psychedelic Judaism; 2011]

By ; October 18, 2011 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

The cover of PAPA’s five-song EP depicts a brunette who could easily be a model winking at the viewer while smoking a cigarette, held to her mouth by fingers with chipped nail polish. Below this headshot is the title of the album: A Good Woman Is Hard To Find. It is ambiguous whether the woman on the cover is the sort of woman PAPA songwriter Daren Weiss is looking for; on the one hand she is pretty and has a clear edge, but the smoking and other minutiae could be factors that discount her from being a “good woman.” But, PAPA seems less concerned about the particulars of romance on A Good Woman Is Hard To Find and more entwined in the atmosphere and emotion of love.

This aesthetic of the record begins about thirty seconds in on standout “Ain’t It So,” when backing soul vocals add “do do do”s and a strutting guitar lead takes over, turning a soulful pop song into a full-on, 60s-inspired throwback, equal parts Motown and Van Morrison, but with just enough Huey Lewis thrown in to make the whole project fun. First single “I Am The Lion King” does not stray far from this effective formula, increasing the muscularity and sounding particularly self-assured and confident. Even the title displays the certain swagger that is all over the entirety of the EP, with “I Am The Lion King” erupting from this base into a joyous instrumental breakdown that manages to be both calmly cool and exuberant at the same time, leading to an elastic romp of a conclusion.

With only five songs to present, there isn’t much room for PAPA to error, and no songs on the EP falter, with only the jokingly titled “Let’s Make You Pregnant” feeling the strains of being a five-minute song by its conclusion. But, on the other hand, the highs of A Good Woman Is Hard To Find are the kind that take a while to sink in, creeping up on the listener with repeat listens. This is most apparent on the album’s two slow burners, “Collector” and “Song For Mike Gigliotti,” where Weiss’ baritone takes on a comforting quality, weaving in a carefully orchestrated dance with the backing instruments and occasionally stumbling upon musical moments of pure bliss. The segment of “Collector” where Weiss starts at a whisper and repeats the line “I just want to be quiet now” gradually amplifying until he is screaming it is a show-stopping moment, one that isn’t overly idealized, but, rather, is dirty and imperfect and real feeling. It is as romantic as music gets and, yet, kind of feels like their album cover as a statement of realistic expectations.

And, sure, the easy knock to this EP is that it feels slight. After all, it is just a five-song EP. But, PAPA’s effort has a way of staying with the listener and its conciseness can ultimately wind up as an attribute, with it never seeming too weighty to be put on at an inappropriate moment. But, most of all, it whets the appetite from more from Weiss as a songwriter, and with the exposure that the artist is getting as a drummer and opening act for Girls, this step feels all the more important, and all the more successful.


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