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ELLEN JAMES SOCIETY (Buy CDs by this artist)
Reluctantly We (Daemon) 1990

It should be a safe assumption that a band named for The World According to Garp's imaginary organization of self-mutilated mutes would be all-instrumental, but that's not the case with this Atlanta quartet. For better or worse, guitarists Chris McGuire and Cooper Seay dramatically sing their grim romantic lyrics in, respectively, harsh and amelodic voices on Reluctantly We, co-produced by Indigo Girl Amy Ray and released by her label. (She and Emily Saliers both make guest contributions here.) The EJS's tasteful folk-rock playing isn't bad at all, but the two frontwomen have all the grating habits of Ray's band (selfconsciously hypersensitive romantic lyrics, occasionally unpleasant singing) and none of its finer vocal qualities.

[Ira Robbins]