Picks and Pans Review: Folksinger

updated 09/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Phranc

When Phranc first released this debut album five years ago, the neo-folk era had not yet arrived, so the record's sales were mellow, to put it mildly. But since then Tracy Chapman and Suzanne Vega, among others, have revived the folk genre to some extent, and Phranc herself had some success with her hard-to-categorize 1989 LP I Enjoy Being a Girl.

Thus this re-release, which reveals a polished acoustic guitarist who sings wittily about topics as diverse as lesbian friendships, female mud wrestling and the worthiness of a famous coroner to the stars.

Phranc, who calls herself an "all-American, Jewish, lesbian folksinger," quickly settles the issue of a young woman trying to decide whether to wear combat boots or espadrilles on "One O' the Girls": "Trying to get me to shave my legs/ No way!"

Her ode to former Los Angeles County medical examiner Thomas Noguchi suggests he was often at the barber when he should have been cutting corpses and concludes that Jack Klugman did a better job on "Quincy. M.E."

Even John Paul II is subject to Phranc's scrutiny, as she nominates him as a superhero: "Move over Captain America/ Step aside Incredible Hulk/ Make way for the Caped Crusader/ The one they call the Pope."

"You just have to let me be me." the 32-year-old singer has said, perhaps unnecessarily. Nobody is likely to mistake her for Marie Osmond or Tiffany. (Island)

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