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Erica Russo & the Good Sport: "Signing Up for This"

(2010)

By Chris Molnar | 1 February 2011

“Signing Up for This” asks, “Where do you get off?”, which sounds like it could both be an accusation or a question about public transportation. The central tension of Brooklyn denizen Erica Russo’s music lies somewhere between those two realms. “The sky has never looked so white before / What the hell am I doing / Stooping to this level?”, she sings, shooting from poetic flourish to bedrock reality, her voice lightly punctuating each line, handing out meaning before tossing each word carelessly out. In turn, every single word stands out in deep focus, briefly and intensely showing itself before winking as quickly out.

This confidence in diction is just one advanced step in an already speedy evolution. Russo’s newest songs, recently debuted live, cherry-pick the best of “Signing Up For This”: a wide-eyed sense of place, steadily hypnotic guitar, the sloughing off of the coffee shop atmosphere, dialing down the soft drums and packing the conversational emotions tighter. Really, her music echoes her lyrics so perfectly, a tense, embattled coming-to-terms can be played out at low volumes; she knows certain all-too-familiar crutches are about to get some serious re-evaluation, and she’s ready. That she then nails a feeling—acceptance, doubt, anger both stupid and transformative—without ever seeming constrained by it is what makes “Signing Up” exceptional. It’s a simple song that more than earns its simplicity—by leaving the listener wanting more.

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