Book of Lost Women and Absolute Divine Inspiration
Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, Fri., Feb. 26, 2016
What at first glance appears to be the Gary Graves Kama Sutra – its cover depicting a ménage à trois picnic – more accurately offers the Buddhist folksinger's meditations on love in its varied forms. "The Lost Lay" envisions sensual perfection, "When I Was a Soldier" portrays romance as war, and "Andy Fisher" (as in "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher) inspires crimes of passion. Buoyed by Graves' naked lyricism ("Won't you come home with me? I'll show you all the dirty pictures of all the girls I loved and left") and the underexposed local's wandering, 24-karat vocals – a mystical amalgam of Paul Simon, Nina Simone, and Michael Jackson – it's a strong concept undercut by demo-quality sound. Producer CoCo Carmel's constant hand-drumming and Tolo Marton's cheesy guitar leads make a mess that even Derek & the Dominos key man Bobby Whitlock can't clean up. To her credit, Carmel triumphs throughout on backing vocals – especially on soul-purge "River of Blood and Fire" – but a lack of sonic purity for Book of Lost Women and Absolute Divine Inspiration stifles the magic Graves achieved on 2013 stunner Till the End of All Time.