Oh To Live And Die in Amber Coffman’s ‘City of No Reply’

 

Amber Coffman — formerly of the Dirty Projectors — released her first solo album, City of No Reply, on June 2, 2017.  This is Coffman’s first album since her 2012 breakup with Dirty Projectors’ bandmate, Dave Longstreth, who has contributed to this album on several tracks that bring back some familiar sounds to listeners.  This is a strong, fresh start for Coffman who really finds herself, and her own voice with this collection of bittersweet melodies, rhythmic transitions, and softer lyrical reflections of a lost love.  If you were expecting a sharp musical response to the Dirty Projectors’ most recent, self-titled album you won’t find it here.  Interestingly enough, though, the tracks where Longstreth collaborated have the biggest hints of what some are calling “Fleetwood Mac-esque” dialogue and sound.

This is Amber Coffman’s ode to a solo life, with a heavy R&B feel behind the indie-pop sounds that dominate tracks like “Dark Night” and “Miss You,” which have an all-around synthetic feel.  Coffman poured a lot of heart into these tracks, and you can hear it in the lyrics and in some of the slower paced tracks, like “Brand New” and “Kindness.”  The third single off the album, “Nobody Knows,” has what almost sounds like an island beat supporting her lyrical cries that “nobody knows” how she feels.  The album’s title track is an interesting combination of melodic strings that transitions into an upbeat, percussive experience that really plays with the ear drum.  “The City of No Reply” is definitely a fun tune with killer catchy lyrics that leave you singing along after the first listen.  The same is true with her other single, “No Coffee,” which was released on March 31, 2017, with a music video directed by Zia Anger on May 19, 2017.  It’s another upbeat piece that highlights Coffman’s fresh voice and range while maintaining hints of her former sound, reflective once again of  Dave Longstreth’s influence.  The other single that was released —“All to Myself”— was released with a music video on October 16, 2016, and was named by New York Magazine as one of the “Best Songs of the Week.” Even on the tracks where the lyrics allude to a melancholy feel about the past, we can hear Coffman say, “That was then, this is now,” as she steps out on her own.  She gets to start brand new, as it were, with confidence and a strong sense of self.

  1. All to Myself (5:39)
  2. No Coffee (4:06)
  3. Dark Night (3:43)
  4. City of No Reply (3:51)
  5. Miss You (4:39)
  6. Do You Believe (3:43)
  7. If You Want My Heart (3:41)
  8. Nobody Knows (3:47)
  9. Under the Sun (3:23)
  10. Brand New (5:03)
  11. Kindness (4:15)

Running Time:  45:55

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Cortney is currently a Ph.d candidate in the Media Studies department at the University at Buffalo. Having earned a MA in History, she followed her heart down many winding paths, survived many tough life experiences and was bitten by the activism bug in the process. Since then her work has been centered around creating media to raise awareness about issues like sexual assault, mental illness, and domestic violence. In her free time she reads rock biographies, improves her vinyl collection, and spins Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac as often as possible.
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