Looking for wit in pop song lyrics can be like fishing for change in pay-phone coin returns: it's best not to have high expectations. Which is why this playful debut album by cabaret performer John Forster is such a happy surprise. Like Shel Silverstein and Tom Lehrer a generation ago, Forster is a musical satirist who mixes social critique with a shot of wry. In a poke at parents who steer their kids toward the education fast track, he takes the view of a worried preschooler ("What am I going to do?/ I'm fine in a sandbox/ But I choke in an interview"). Elsewhere he gives the tongue-in-cheek treatment to everything from German dreams of expansionism ("Though they call it the Common Market/ It will always be Deutschland to me") to featherheaded friends ("Way down deep you're shallow/ Superficial to the core/ Beneath your surface/There's just more surface/ And beneath that, even more"). The album's masterpiece is "Fusion," a parody of Paul Simon's Graceland that skewers Simon and his liberal borrowing of African music like an entomologist pinning down a prized bug ("It's a matter of finders keepers/ 'Cause there ain't no copyrights in fusion/ We're all just rippin' off each other"). This is no mainstream album, and Forster won't be hanging any gold records on his wall because of it. But for those who go looking for unexpected prizes, this CD will seem like a fistful of shiny quarters. (Philo)"