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The Forgotten Arm

4.5 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 3, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

'The forgotten Arm' is Aimee's 5th solo album and is a concept album, a musical novella : a dozen songs that tell, rather loosely, the story of John and Caroline as they meet, fall in love and road trip across America. Set in the 70s - the record's music reflects this period, sounding in Aimee's own words 'Mott The Hoople meets alt country'. Produced by Joe Henry. Super Ego Records. 2005.

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Marked by a distinctly more middle-aged melancholy than her previous releases, Aimee Mann's The Forgotten Arm is a successfully conceived story album, following a couple through the life of their relationship. There is much for old and new fans here, as Mann lifts vignettes from the love-and-hate affair of a boxer and his girlfriend like sepia-toned snapshots from a county fair. In fact, it is in just one of those sticky, hot fairground parking lots where the romance blossoms and progresses "in the back of a Cadillac, that's her asleep in the mirror in back." The syncopated, bluesy melodies and strong ensemble of musicians make for a polished effort, and Mann’s gimlet eye doesn’t miss much--from the seductive pain of addiction, bout-induced memory loss, and finally to the inevitable discussion about having (or not) a baby. If indigo is the mood for most of Mann's work, then The Forgotten Arm may be closer to lavender, given the seasoned humor and perspective evident in standout tracks such as "That's How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart" and "She Really Wants You." This one's a keeper. --Megan Halverson

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 3, 2005)
  • Original Release Date: May 3, 2005
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: SuperEgo Records
  • Run Time: 47 minutes
  • ASIN: B0007YLLK2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,808 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Remember when singer/songwriters used to write about beautiful losers instead of singing entries out of their diaries? Aimee Mann returns to this tradition with "The Forgotten Arm" (a reference to a boxing move, which seems too complicated for a non-sports person like me to explain, but from what I gather, the gist of it is this: an boxer is knocked out by the deliberately unused or apparently non-dominant arm of his/her opponent).

This CD, as mentioned in other reviews, is very much akin to the novella form. Its packaging supports the comparison in all areas, including breaking the song lyrics into chapters. One page of the insert contains a "chapter" (song lyrics), and the opposite page contains the associated illustration & caption (gorgeous, by the way. Aimee Mann picked the perfect artist, Seth, for "Lost in Space," and has once again picked the perfect artist for the moody depiction of the two lost souls in "The Forgotten Arm").

While much has been made of her influences on this CD, none of the names that I've read come to mind when I listen to this CD. Aimee Mann said the setting of the "story" is the 1970s, and the music follows this theme. But, the artists that come to mind when I listen to "The Forgotten Arm" are Jackson Browne, Carly Simon, and Joni Mitchell - all who in the '70s hit their strides singing about impossible love affairs & the resulting heartaches. Beyond the lyrics, the musical style also seems to harken back to those three artists, too (for me, anyway).

Yet this is not just a period piece. While "I Can't Get My Mind Around It" sounds like it would be at home alongside Jackson Browne's "These Days" or "Fountain of Sorrow," "Going Through the Motions" is most definitely 21st-century Aimee Mann.
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Format: Audio CD
Let's just say from the start that I have given up trying to be objective about Aimee Mann a long time ago. I fell in love with the woman's voice and songwriting abilities the minute I first heard "Voices Carry" in 1985 (which she recorded with her former band Til Tuesday) and followed her around ever since, through thick (the long overdue success of the "Magnolias" soundtrack) and thin (the strangely impersonal and generic "I'm with stupid", her only small misstep in a 20 year career as a recording artist). Her recordings have never ceased to amaze me for two very simple reasons : 1) This woman can WRITE songs that are at once compelling, memorable, catchy and deeply emotional 2) This woman has a singing voice that doesn't sound like anyone else's - the minute you hear her, you KNOW it's her.
This said, anyone who'll take a close listen to her latest album "The Forgotten Arm" will know that Aimee is still one of the most arresting artists of her generation. The album loosely follows the ordeals of two lovers on their path through addiction and alienation, and the music is the key that holds it together : a straightforward, earthy production that echoes vintage rock and roll, all the while sounding totally contemporary. Aimee has stripped down some of the chubbier production tricks of her previous solo albums, and delivered an album that's both richly textured and minimalistic. Of particular interest is the fact that she has been using the piano a lot more than before, and not just on ballads, giving back this underrated instrument its rightful place.
The songs are all amazing, but some of them are of particular interest.
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Format: Audio CD
"The Forgotten Arm" has a melodic and harmonic beauty matching Aimee Mann's all-time best offerings.

There is a real sense of time and place to the sound here. The songs flow. If "I'm With Stupid" was a wintery Londonesque album this is a summertime Americana album, harking back to her Virginia roots, evoking a time and place with both the sounds and the imagery she employs right from the opening line: "Cotton candy was king on the midway that spring..."

Her voice has never been richer, delivering those trademark "low notes" right when it counts and showcasing her heavenly upper range on "Beautiful" and "That's How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart" - one of the most quietly tender and beautiful ballads she has written since "No One is Watching You Now" or "Ray."

Joe Henry deserves a lot of credit as well for his imagination in helping shape the sound. The injection of a little new blood makes a world of difference on "The Forgotten Arm," with great guitar work from Jeff Trott, punchy drumming at faster tempos, and a very tight core band that you can tell has been touring together for a while. The mix is fantastic with some extremely bold, shimmering, explosive sonics for a "stripped down" album.

For all the justified attention Aimee Mann's lyrics get, her music might just be even better. Nobody is writing catchier songs, and she is often at her best here. Though her songs are mostly about off-kilter relationships, even the cynical observations are wrapped in layers of humor, vivid imagery and sticky sweet music. The difference is in her cleverness and details. Nobody delivers a musical and lyrical combo punch as well as Aimee Mann.
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