As debut albums by young bands go, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars is nearly flawless. With a slight southern twinge in her voice, the 23-year-old Brickell churned out brilliant lyrics and captivating vocal performances, backed by the solid and innovative players that comprised the original New Bos — Kenny Withrow, Brad Houser, John Bush, and Brandon Aly.
Twisting words like putty, Brickell wraps herself up in phrases and melodic lines with layers of meaning not easily grasped at first listen. Her simple observations offer deep contemplations for the willing disciples of her musical philosophies. The catchy breakthrough hit “What I Am” is the perfect example: “I’m not aware of too many things/I know what I know, if you know what I mean.” Zen and the art of songwriting.
On other fronts, Brickell’s fascination with actress Edie Sedgwick turned itself into “Little Miss S.,” while strained friendships inspired “Circle.” Every song on this record hits its mark and is worthy of special attention. How well does “Nothing” capture the frustration of a non-communicative partner? Very well, indeed. Then there’s “The Wheel,” “She,” and “Air of December.” Highlights, one and all.
Rather than an overblown big rock finish, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars closes with a solo acoustic performance of “I Do,” a quiet plea for a partner who’s equal and true, complete and steady; yet another testimony to the simplicity and thoughtfulness that this album and this band offer. “What I Am” did more than kick off a record, it jump started a career amidst the clamor of the late ’80s folk-rock scene. Along with 10,000 Maniacs, Tracy Chapman, and others, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians took their place in the spotlight, basking in every second of their 15 minutes of fame.