Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Waxed - Record Review from Issue #57 May-June 2005

Aimee Mann

The Forgotten Arm (SuperEgo)

It’s easy to see how, if a song you wrote served as the primary inspiration for a movie — as Aimee Mann’s “Deathly” did for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, the soundtrack of which was fleshed out with more of Mann’s material — you might start thinking and writing more cinematically yourself.

The Forgotten Arm is a concept album, or at least a collection of songs built around a central premise: A professional boxer falls in love, gets sent to Vietnam (the story is set in the ’70s), returns with a drug problem, and struggles to right himself. Addiction was also a major topic of Mann’s last studio album, 2002′s Lost In Space; by adding to her catalog another set of songs in the same direction, she runs the risk of falling into a thematic rut.

Still, Mann’s voice, which coolly declaims lines like “Life just kind of empties out, less a deluge than a drought,” is as alluring as ever, and the tracks themselves, produced by Joe Henry (who has shown his talents behind the board on albums by Solomon Burke, Jim White and others), are simple and straightforward — mostly piano, guitar, and drums — allowing Mann to get her songs across as directly as possible.

The relationship between the two principals and the setting of the story is sometimes too sketchy. There’s little to place The Forgotten Arm in time, save for a mention of the characters wearing Calvin Klein jeans. But Mann does succeed in describing the boxer’s continuing cycle of determination, then failure, in his attempts to clean up; she also details his lover’s shifting tides of devotion and complete exasperation.

As an album, The Forgotten Arm is pretty good. But it might make a great movie.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #57 May-June 2005

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter