I discovered this album almost by mistake. I was visiting New York one night when my plans fell through and I found myself looking through the paper for something to do. That led me to an Essex Green show -- these were long-lost friends I hadn't seen or heard from in years. The show was an incredibly pleasant surprise. My old friends had emerged as a mature, tight, melodic unit that oozed fun, edge, and love. I bought the CD.
Whatever I thought about the show, the CD has long since eclipsed it. I agree with other reviewers that every song on the CD is a quality listen. Even the ones I didn't particularly like at first (e.g. Southern States) I still find stuck in my head and I have come to appreciate. Our Lady of Havana has become one of my favorite songs. Lazy May and the Late Great Cassiopia are fantastically fun. Old Dominion is one of those tunes that can get stuck in your head for a week at a time. Berlin could get stuck there for 6 months. I have come to love this album so much that I had a dream recently where I kissed Sasha Bell in gratitude. Seriously. I buy a lot of music, from the highly commercial to the obscure. This is my favorite album of 2003.
I give this album 4 stars instead of 5 because while it is musically dy-no-mite, the content of the lyrics is not profound. Don't get me wrong, there are some very clever turns of phrase and some excellent lines. Sasha writes some lyrics that can really tug at your heart as well. But overall I don't come away inspired to be a better person or start a revolution or anything of that magnitude. That's what it takes to get 5 stars out of me. Call me picky. Nonetheless, this is a fabulous album that everybody should buy. It makes a great gift, too -- a little bundle of joy in a plastic case. Viva la Green!