Picks and Pans Review: Epiphany in Brooklyn
On her major label debut. Kahn. 25. a former Bowery barmaid and pizzamaker, gets personal with the junkies, painters, street people and "bored cops" who litter Manhattan's Lower East Side. The folk-punk singer-songwriter, who bought her first guitar at a New Jersey Kmart and ran off to Europe at 16, also takes us on rambling road trips to Midwestern Motel 6's and 24-hour Dunkin' Donuts shops. Her sweet-yet-battered voice sounds like Joni Mitchell filtered through the Violent Femmes and the Velvet Underground. Accompanying herself on acoustic guitar (with backing rhythm section), Kahn lets her disquieting, poetic songs follow a lost generation "anesthetized by violence" in I heir caffeine-driven searches for love amid desolate emotional and physical landscapes.
Her raw writing is full of smart wordplay and artsy references ("You find that your life is a frustrated vision of Gauguins, Rodins and excellent diction/ mint juleps and needles don't add up to wisdom"). Despite her cleverness, Kahn isn't tricky or gimmicky—just honest and in-your-face. She does bog down in a couple of the slow songs, but when she's rolling (especially in "I Don't Sleep, I Drink Coffee Instead" and "Mint Juleps and Needles"), Kahn's songs brace you like a great cup of Java at 4 in the morning. (Chaos/Columbia)