There have reviews already written about Aimee Mann’s most recent album, The Forgotten Arm. So I’ve decided to not review it as an album straight-through but more as a collection of songs. I’ve decided to listen to the songs randomly on my CD player and just let the music play. This might be odd, but I’ve been listening to Aimee Mann for a long time, and I think that this might be interesting.
“I Can’t Get My Head Around It” is classic Aimee Mann. It reminds me most of her 1993 album, Whatever. Like Whatever, The Forgotten Arm is filled with many fast tempo songs. It is Aimee Mann’s best when she weaves her stories and words through rhythms and beats: “And I’ll pour the drinks / Like a true believer / Whose God never blinks.”
Aimee Mann has learned to use the instruments to compliment her voice. On “She Really Wants You”, the drums never drown out her voice, nor does her voice ever drown out the instruments. Every instrument can be heard along with every note she sings.
What Aimee Mann does best is sprinkle the right number of ballads into her albums. “That’s How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart” is very heartfelt with its uncomplicated piano and mixture of soothing, yet scolding vocals: “And though the exit is crude / It saves me coming unglued.”
The word “baby” comes often throughout The Forgotten Arm. I don’t remember the word’s use in her past albums, but here it is used many times. From the various songs, it seems that she’s speaking to a loved one.
Maybe this experiment didn’t work. Listening to the album in random order loses much of the context of the songs. As songs, they all work and are very much enjoyable and especially delightful. But with a storyteller like Mann, these albums must be listened to as a whole. I guess you’d have to imagine listening to a Dylan album, or The Wall by Pink Floyd in random order, and maybe you don’t have art, but just incoherence.