After not hearing Jill Sobule's self-titled CD for several years, I put it on my iPod because it resurfaced while we were cleaning out our computer hutch. Over two nights of jogging, I revisited it, and found myself amazed all over again. There's not a bad song on this album, and most of the tracks are terrific. But there are two standouts that deserved to be mammoth, test-of-time hits, and it's a shame that hasn't happened: "I Kissed a Girl" and "Vrbana Bridge."
"I Kissed a Girl" gets pigeonholed as a novelty song because it is so catchy, funny, and upbeat. But this isn't just a playful tune about casual, flighty experimentation. It's a celebration of self-recognition: a song about the triumph of internal honesty that happens when one finally admits to and acts on a long-repressed truth. (Curiously, the Katy Perry song of the same title may be about exactly the same thing; it's just that Sobule's truth is a more beautiful, decent, and interesting one than Perry's.) The fleeting, knowing pause between "She took off her overcoat" and the first refrain is one of the most beautiful caesuras in lyrics that I know of. And the guitar solo, roaring and joyous, ought to let anyone with ears know that this song means to say something that goes beyond mere words.
Near the end of the album (and thank heavens it's not the last song) comes "Vrbana Bridge," an exquisitely heartbreaking story about the power of love to change us. If you can listen to this song without wanting to cry, then I congratulate you, because you're apparently invulnerable to any kind of hurt. And yet even in its absolutely rending tragedy, it lights a flame of hope and beauty. Truly one of the most remarkable songs I've ever heard.
Sobule's voice, songwriting, satire, musicianship, and sense of artistry are all beyond compare on this CD. It is astonishing that she is not as wealthy and famous as any female singer today.