First Impressions: Been Around by A Girl Called Eddy

One Friday’s eve in March 2005, Diane and I made our way to the World Cafe Live in West Philly to see the double bill of Keren Ann and A Girl Called Eddy. It was our first or second time there, I believe, as the venue first opened its doors in late 2004, and winter being winter, who wants to slog into Philly? As I remember it, our seats weren’t the best – closer to to the bar than the stage – and yet we came away enamored of A Girl Called Eddy.

Alone on stage, she delivered stripped-down renditions of the songs from her self-titled debut, which was released in August 2004. For those who’ve never heard the sublime set, imagine Dusty Springfield produced by Burt Bacharach. Now swap out Dusty for Chrissie Hynde, and substitute Richard Hawley for Bacharach. (Or maybe just imagine Mazzy Star with a more mainstream pop sensibility.) Live, that fuller sound was missed – yet we still found her set mesmerizing.

(Bill from the Music & More Blog was there, too, though he enjoyed Keren Anne’s set more than A Girl Called Eddy’s due to being already familiar with the French-Israeli singer-songwriter.)

Anyway, at the time, both Diane and I imagined we’d be enjoying new albums from A Girl Called Eddy every so often for the rest of our lives, and seeing her in concert whenever she came to town. Who’d have thunk we’d have to wait 16 years? (For the whys and wherefores of the long delay, read this insightful 2014 post from the Recoup blog.)

In 2018, she did collaborate with Mehdi Zannad, aka Fugu, as The Last Detail. Here’s one of their songs, “Lazy.”

Anyway, flash-forward beyond 2018 to this past Friday, January 17th, and the release of A Girl Called Eddy’s sophomore set, Been Around. “Girl, where you been?” asks someone at the record’s start. What follows, the title track, is pure Eddy, with knowing lyrics that share her gained wisdom: “Been around enough to know I’m broken/been around enough to know nothing’s sure/been around enough to be a little grateful/been around enough to miss my heart when it was pure…”

The second track, “Big Mouth,” is atmospheric, melancholic and exquisite all at once, with sadness seeping through every chord and note. “Pick apart the feelings like shadows on the ceiling/I stop before I start/All your judge and jury it’s tearing me apart/I just can’t win.” 

The compelling “Jody” paints a colorful portrait of a friend who moved away back in 2003 that she misses, still. “I never saw his face again,” she laments.  

To my ears, “Charity Shop Window” is a whimsical, McCartney-esque ode to a charity shop “where the past lives on at a bargain price.” (In the old days of mixtapes or mixCDs, I’d marry it to Paul’s “Vintage Clothes” from his 2007 Memory Almost Full album.)

Another highlight: “Two Hearts.”

I could go on, but instead I’ll settle for this. “I love this f-ing album,” my Diane said a few moments ago. Kinda says it all. Give it a listen – and don’t be surprised when, after it’s over, you play it again…and again…and again.

The track listing:

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