The Deal: Little girl light pairs up with roots-heavy producer Jim Dickinson (Replacements, North Mississippi Allstars daddy/producer) for genre-busting sonic adventures.
The Good: Amy LaVere calls Anchors and Anvils her big pop record, but unless your conception of that genre is what country music tuned into in the '70s, that label don't get it. There's a country thread running through it all, and maybe a glimmer of pop here and there, but this project visits too many genres to find a home in just one. "Tennessee Valentine" sounds like an escapee from the '50s country charts. Gypsy jazz is the medium on "That Beat," and it's safe to say that writer Carla Thomas never came anywhere close to this approach. "People Get Mad" is an interesting juxtaposition of LaVere's little girl voice against a wallpaper of heavy funk -- seems perverse and kinky. Levere continues in that vein with "Cupid's Arrow," but again, that innocent voice singing about matters of the heart seems a little creepy. "I'll Remember You" mellows out Dylan.
The Bad: It's a strange record that takes little getting used to. LaVere's vocals get a little tedious at times, but the instrumentation always carries her through. It's worth a repeat listen to get all the nuances of Dickinson's gorgeous, meticulous background work.
The Verdict: Let it play. It'll grow on ya.