There were some who said that the Indigo Girls changed with the release of "Become You," a change that continued with "Despite Our Differences." While both of those albums were classic IG, they did carry a different feel, with "Despite Our Differences" especially carrying a more pop-type theme. When the Girls were dropped unexpectedly from the Hollywood label and decided to strike out on their own, I was one of the skeptics.
Fortunately, "Poseidon and the Bitter Bug" met all expectations and banished any doubts that I might have had -- on top of being a powerful comeback CD after the Hollywood Labels hooplah, "Poseidon" is also something of a return to the Indigo Girls' roots as true folk-rock musicians.
Ray and Saliers combine for a powerful duo, continuing in their usual method of splitting the tracks between themselves. Saliers' tracks tend toward the darker or more melancholy on this collection, but they create a subtle power while Ray continues to draw her conclusions through metaphor and lush imagery. Each track has its own strengths and weaknesses, but "Poseidon" itself is something of an original idea. While at times the flow is somewhat put off, it comes together for something with spark and originality in an industry that seems to have largely lost that spark.
The best feature of "Poseidon and the Bitter Bug," however, is the inclusion of a second CD. True fans of the Indigo Girls will be utterly thrilled because the second CD is essentially a deconstructed acoustic rework of the original. The songs are in a different order with one new track that wasn't featured in the studio album, and it's merely Ray and Saliers doing what they've been made famous for: playing and harmonizing in perfect and oftentimes mesmerising melodies.
"Poseidon and the Bitter Bug" is a classic Indigo Girls album, both a continuation of some more innovative songwriting and also a return to the formulas that made them so successful and powerful in the first place. The studio release will likely please both old fans and new fans, while Indigo Girls purists who disliked "Become You" and retained their love for works like "Swamp Ophelia" will be thrilled by the acoustic sessions.
In the end, "Poseidon and the Bitter Bug" is everything that got me started on the Girls -- melancholy and brave, dark and light, folk and rock, country and bluegrass, a spark of originality and a true talent for melodious harmonizing coming together in one spectacular package.