by Henry Lipput
On her website, Lindsay Murray, the driving force behind Gretchen's Wheel, says her approach to songwriting and her outlook on life is as a "sad science." "The act of songwriting and recording music is my 'sad science…' turning sadness or other negative emotions into something better," which makes her the sad scientist in the title of the latest album from Gretchen's Wheel. Murray is also the band's singer, guitarist, and producer.
Sad Scientist is the third album from Gretchen's Wheel; and, to help with her research into human relations, Murray put together a terrific band of power pop titans that includes Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star, R.E.M.), Andy Reed(The Legal Matters, Reed Recording Co.), and multi-instrumentalist and guitar master Fernando Perdomo.
Murray has noted that her influences include Nada Surf, Elliot Smith, and Matthew Sweet, but it's also obvious that this list has to include Aimee Mann, especially during her early solo Jon Brion period. The track "Blank Slate" on Sad Scientist is one of the best songs on the album and one Mann now won't have a chance to write and record.
There are hints of folk icon Judy Collins in Murray's voice on slower songs like "Out Of Your Hands" and, especially, the sad and lovely final track "Same Song."
"Wish" swings in a groovy power pop kind of way and, to my ears, is already a classic track. "Save The Day" starts out with a spacey feel but includes big musical bits that remind me of nothing so much as "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," and the song showcases some great guitar work from Murray. And "The Price" is a pop-rock gem driven by Perdomo on drums and bass.
Sad Scientist is out now on Futureman Records.