July  2002

Florence Dore - Perfect City
Slewfoot Records SF 809
Released: 2002

by David J Cantor

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

[Reviewed on DVD]Perfect City's publicity describes Florence Dore as a "professor of American literature with a specialization in Faulkner." But rather than a scholar intent on proving her profundity, Dore is an inventive country rocker whose lyrics make for good songs. I do not hear literary pretensions in them, just effective communication. Her band's good, too.

The title track does borrow a line from The Sound and the Fury -- "The birds just fly on strings"-- but, not having read the book in 27 years, I picked up on that from someone else’s review. The writing overall is not Faulkner-like; Dore has her own style. "Perfect City" also has a hot lyrical rhythm owing to the staccato phrasing she ends lines with at regular intervals -- not to mention drummer Dennis Diken, who is probably tired of being referred to as the Smithereens’ drummer. Diken really shines here, rippingly filling spaces between lines.

"No Nashville," is the first taste of country on the album. But the tune is not so countrified as to push a pedal steel or Jesus on you -- in fact, Chris Erikson’s lead guitar has a solid presence with a rock sound, though the song is slow and lilting. Likewise, the disc’s other country tunes aren't that different from those firmly in the rock genre. "Christmas" features Erikson on a twangy second vocal, and his Carl Perkins-influenced guitar puts me in mind of some of George Harrison’s in some early Beatles tunes.

What about Dore’s singing? Pretty darned good! Not as distinctive as Patsy Cline’s or Deborah Harry’s, maybe, but Dore brings many years of performing experience to this recording. She uses effective timing and phrasing while avoiding less-skilled singers’ common mistakes. Perfect City is a compelling album. Many people will play it over a longer period than it takes to review it.