Jean Caffeine – Geckos in the Elevator

January 01, 1970



Singer/songwriter Jean Caffeine makes records rarely these
days, preferring the visual medium to satisfy the creative urge. That might
make fans impatient, but it also means a Caffeine LP is no shelf-filler – it’s
a statement. That’s not to say Geckos in
the Elevator
– only her fourth album over the course of a couple of decades
– is a concept album, mind you, just that it’s a collection of songs that have
been lovingly assembled for maximum effect – a fully realized creative vision,
if you will.


Geckos follows the
troubadour’s usual folk/country/rock template fairly closely – there’s nothing
here the average No Depression fan
wouldn’t clasp tightly to his/her breast. But the LP isn’t a series of clichés,
either, given Caffeine’s very personal outlook on the world. Her smarts,
sensitivity and, most of all, conversational style elevate the political
commentary of “Devil I Know,” the storytelling waltz of “Sadie Saturday Night”
and the hometown salute “Hey Austin” far above formula. She’s at her best with
more microscopic focus, a la the matter-of-fact
emotional plea “Baby I’m Wrong,” the expatriate epic “Love Letters From Laos”
and the catchy character study “Jane Rearranged.”


Occasionally Caffeine doesn’t live up to her own potential,
wedding some of her strongest melodies to indifferent lyrics, as with “Lucky
Penny” and “Hugs.” But those are blips in an otherwise finely tuned radar of Geckos in the Elevator.


Rearranged,” “Devil I Know,” “Baby I’m Wrong” MICHAEL TOLAND

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