People Changes is not an album for pop-going, folk or dance loving music fans. Instead this is an album for music afficionados, for those few among the roving crowds who love an album that drifts and lilts past catchiness or comfortable compositions. With vocals reminiscent of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright and Andrew Bird mixed up in a symphonic milieu, the most memorable music-scapes come at the end of the otherwise forgettable, “Lift.”
I would have preferred this album as a soundtrack or strictly instrumentals, without Baldwin’s tepid lyrics and bird call vocals. “A Little Lost,” presents the most noteworthy single. As far as covers of Arthur Russel’s classic love songs are concerned, Swedish singer/songwriter Jens Lekman beat Baldwin to the punch. However, Baldwin’s beautiful composition does add certain vigor to the tranquil original. “Weights” offers surprising explosions of sax amidst Baldwin’s drifting vocals. Matt Bauder, former Chicago-based tenor saxophonist plays the needed complement to Baldwin’s bass. “Weights,” however presents the most compelling lyrics of the entire album, demure yet intentionally dark.
The chaotic “Real Fakes” is a splendid experimentation. Unfortunately ”The Same Thing” falls flat, while the culminating moments of “What is There” saves the album from dreadful romanticism. The opening of “Let My Spirit Rise,” reminds that classical and contemporary instrumentation can coincide.