Top critical review
Who is Mona Lisa's Sister?
on April 29, 2000
The angry young man, Graham Parker, doesn't appear all that angry on The Mona Lisa's Sister. With Motown style songs like `I'm Just Your Man,' `Blue Highways,' `Success,' and `Cupid,' I'd call Graham a soulful young man. He gets so close to genuine Motown that you can imagine Smoky Robinson singing "I'm not a burnin' comet that fell out of the sky" (I'm Just Your Man). `Get Started Start A Fire' contains some funky bass lines, and `The Girl Isn't Ready' is a competent Reggae. There are a couple straight-up rockers here including the sizzling `Don't Let It Break You Down' and `OK Hieronymus.'
While you're singing along with Graham like a member of a Doo-Wop back-up group, you'll probably notice that the lyrics aren't exactly `I love my baby" R&B stuff. Kids are beating-up old people on `Don't Let It Break You Down,' and I'm not certain who Hieronymus (OK Hieronymus) is, but with lyrics like "Just taste the odor of burning skin,' I doubt that I'd like to meet him. Parker is best when he's cynical: Joan of Arc is burned at the stake for lighting a cigarette in an airport (Get Started Light A Fire). Maybe "angry" is a poor choice of words. Parker is disenchanted with love "I don't know why it's not enough to feel moments of mighty love" (I Don't Know), and also frustrated that he has never been a stadium sellout (Success). He has one minor bad trait: stuffing some lines with just too many words (Back In Time, OK Hieronymus).
I've tried to find one stinker, one throw-a way on this CD, but there isn't one. The combination of spirited R&B music and caustic lyrics works successfully on The Mona Lisa's Sister.