The substantial degree of traditional and alt-country influence among New York singer/songwriters and groups is illustrated by Clem Snide's fourth full-length release.

The substantial degree of traditional and alt-country influence among New York singer/songwriters and groups is illustrated by Clem Snide's fourth full-length release. A delicate, largely acoustic album, Soft Spot's 11 mostly amiable, mellow tracks evoke slow, gentle summer days, exemplified by "All Green," on which frontman Eef Barzelay is at turns wry and sentimental. "I buried our love in the backyard," he declares. "Until it thaws, we could play cards . . . But summer will come, with Al Green and sweetened iced tea/Summer will come and be all green with the sweetness of thee." Such optimism tempers an often-underlying melancholy, a reflection of New York itself in the early 21st century: Soft Spot was recorded in Brooklyn, just across the New York Harbor from the scene of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. With producer Joe Chiccarelli (U2, Beck), Clem Snide has crafted a document of the era—uncertain, maybe fearful, but hopeful nonetheless.—CW

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