I Never Learned to Swim: 1990-2000
It•s something of a pity that despite the decade•s worth of fine recordings displayed on I Never Learned to Swim, most Americans still only remember Jill Sobule for her 1995 hit, •I Kissed a Girl,• which is largely dismissed as a novelty song (which it•s not). While it is a great song, Sobule•s distinctive folk-pop goes far beyond that one hit, and deserves a much wider audience. Hopefully, this fine collection will help her find it. Sobule•s charming story-songs should be at least as acclaimed as those of kindred spirit Suzanne Vega (who • while also remembered by the general public for a couple of •novel• hits, at least gets critical acclaim).
This •best of• package (while oddly missing her second-best known song, •Supermodel•) is a good place for the Sobule novice to catch up, and I•d think that once a listener discovers the heartbreaking beauty of a song like •Houdini•s Box,• the catchy singalong feel of •When My Ship Comes In,• the sunny •60s pop of •Claire,• and the ironic •Margaret,• they•ll be hooked. And yes, the ubiquitous •I Kissed a Girl• is here, if you can•t see beyond that. Two new songs, the wistful •Big Shoes• and the atmospheric, moody •Smoke Dreams• ably demonstrate that Sobule is still at the top of her craft.
But don•t take my word for it. Read the lovingly detailed liner notes, which include testimonials from the likes of Jane Wiedlin, Warren Zevon, and Lloyd Cole (in whose band, The Negatives, Sobule also plays), and you begin to understand how criminally underappreciated Sobule really is. So get with the program, already, and pick up this disc! One Jill Sobule is worth a million Britneys and Christinas. Thank goodness she•s still here, and that we have I Never Learned to Swim to celebrate her intelligent and thoughtful work.