Poseidon and the Bitter Bug

Are you an Indigo Girls fan? Do you like pretty, nylon-string plucked guitar melodies drenched in weeping emotions? Do you favor intertwined harmonies honed to perfection over 20 years worth of performance? What about language, do you enjoy reading lyric sheets for the poetry that flows on the tide of banjos and electric folk arrangements? If you answered yes to these questions then my guess is you are a fan of Emily Saliers and Amy Ray’s music and you won’t be disappointed in their new release.

Poseidon and the Bitter Bug is the duo’s 13th album and their first to be released independently by the duo. They established their own label – IG Records – and are distributing Poseidon through Vanguard. As a bonus the girls are releasing a companion album, the same songs (plus a bonus track) but done all acoustically. Not that Poseidon is a rocker, quite the opposite. If anything it is more of a return to the pair’s earlier work. As on past album Salier and Ray take turns with the songs. Each writes independently of the other and their unique writing styles is one of the secrets of their success. Ray tends to expose life’s edgier elements while Saliers is one big heart of emotion; both are intellectual, some might say wordy, writers.

Poseidon and the Bitter Bug opens with a couple of slow contemplative songs. Salier’s “Digging For Your Dream” is a sad number about a broken women in an abusive relationship. Ray takes on political themes in ethereal fashion on “Sugar Tongue” an unusually sensuous melody for the harder rocking of the pair. These songs work as template for the rest of the record; deep introspection on love, relationships, the true shape of our nature, a few political observations and lots of reminiscing. Middle-aged angst and assessments are plentiful. On “Ghost of the Gray,” Ray’s examination of suicide victims leads to contemplation about old friends.” “Fleet of Hope finds Saliers using fishing fleets and ocean motifs to investigate life choices, singing “you’re all washed up when Poseidon has his day.”

Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, as a whole, is a touch melancholy and subdued. Mitchell Froom’s production is understated and allows the focus to fall on the lead vocals, harmonies and lyrics. After all, this is where Indigo Girls shine, and with both a studio and acoustic disc to choose from, fans of the duo will have their choice as to how they want to experience these new songs.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix Host)