The singer-songwriter is a (deservedly) revered figure in popular music, bearing his or her emotions in their art for all to see. Sometimes it will strike a chord with us on a personal level, other times their stories are gripping enough that we feel for them, and in other instances we simply appreciate the music and lyrics for its beauty. Annie Dinerman’s 2009 release Broken Cookies fits into every category, although not always at the same time.
Its opening track, “If It Ain’t True (It Just Ain’t Love),” is a wayward country song, its narrator a woman recovering from a hurtful relationship, hoping – cautiously – to find her dream man. The song’s title shows the value of lessons learned at a more mature age, wiser despite the loss. Annie’s voice really shines on this one. On what would, in a perfect world, easily be the smash single from this album, “My Ex-Boyfriend” appears to carry on the heroine’s tale. Its opening line, “You remind me of my ex-boyfriend,” is never something we men ever want to hear. (Seriously – even if you mean it as a compliment, that is the last thing we’d like to hear.) Annie makes the sentiment behind that potential date-ending non sequitur humorous by offering counter-statements: “You’re much cuter and you wear cool shirts […] you actually like your job.”
The song’s middle section holds all the secrets, where the narrator reveals a lack of affection and attention from her father, and an additional fear of being hurt once again by another man in her life. For anyone who’s resumed dating after a bad split, we can sympathize – that first embrace, that first hand on the knee – with the familiarity of physical and emotional intimacy, how even in that flash of a second, we’re reminded of the last time. It ends on a sweet, romantic note, with the narrator telling her man that he reminds her of her next boyfriend. We can almost hear the kiss at the end of the song. ...
“Egyptian Cotton” ... paints a realistic portrait of a date unexpectedly leading to romance. It isn’t roses, candles, and satin – we’ll let Barry Manilow keep that mass deception alive – it’s wondering if your partner will notice your thinning bedsheets. Instead of all the ornaments that typically adorn depictions of intimacy, Annie sings, “All I can give / Is just me, myself, / This defenseless heart,” an honest glimpse of what’s really on display in such a setting. Beautiful.
“Different Now” sounds like it was written by Kinks front man Ray Davies, whose second-person character sketches show a remarkably perceptive songwriter. With Annie Dinerman, “Different Now” comes across as an affirmation, with just a hint of darkness bubbling underneath the surface – references to bruises and a “tale of woe” imply an abusive relationship – that can make this an encouragement addressed either to herself or to an embattled listener. “In The Dark” is an oddly humorous, but still slightly sad, story about the narrator’s neighbor having raucous sex with a girlfriend. Rather than envying his exact experience – “His mattress is a rock band,” while hers is “A love song that’s waiting to be sung,” – she once again longs for a man to call her own.“One Planet At A Time,” the first track on the album to feature multiple vocals (all overdubs from Miss Dinerman) as well as a double-tracked vocal on the bridge, gives us a unique twist on saving planet Earth, asking that we ignore exploring outer space until we get things right here on our own terrestrial orb. It’s a philosophy I endorse – those spacecraft used by NASA aren’t exactly eco-friendly. The whimsical shuffle “Big Dog” is, at its surface, about the narrator’s attempt to win over a neighborhood stray. Just beneath it is a sweet plea for affection from a loving man who is with another girl. It’s a fun song, but with a palpable ache in the singer’s voice.
The piano ballad “A King And A Hero” is a confessional where Annie admits her own flaws, brushing off a man’s kiss, wanting to remain “happy on my own,” but realizing her mistake. She asks the question the album itself seems to ask, the fundamental question underlining every person’s desire to find their soulmate: “Could you love me as I am? / Proud and plain-spoken?” It’s a touching moment on what is already an emotional roller coaster ride of an album. “Stole My Soul” follows in a similar frame of mind, asking if a relationship would be something beautiful or simply another source of pain. At the song’s end, she says to her lover “I can’t picture a morning without you,” a statement that goes so much deeper than simply saying “I love you.”
On the penultimate track, “Talking With Absent Friends,” we hear an electric guitar. Annie reflects on living a period of excess in the 1990′s, mourning for friends lost in 9/11 and a suggested suicide in the song’s bridge. It’s the most touching set of lyrics in this collection of songs, looking backward while also looking ahead with a feeling of hope. The closer, “Shores Of Egypt,” deliberately conjures up Biblical imagery – “I’ve crossed my Red Sea / He’s still standing on the shores of Egypt” – as a metaphor for a lover struggling with a depression the narrator is all-too-familiar with. As she beckons, “Lover, come to me / I’ve crossed the same sea,” we see Annie as a woman changed through the course of 12 songs in thirty-four minutes, stronger, and now reaching out to offer the help and guidance she’d yearned for.
ANNIE DINERMAN: *PRESS
Press for Broken Cookies CD
"Annie has a great voice, reminiscent of Carole King. ... She has also written a good song about saving "One Planet At A Time." Nothing in the lyrics is mysterious or garbled, song structures are matched by voice and the arrangements are very nice."
“Although stylistically different, Annie Dinerman has written the best ballads that I have listened to since Joan Baez, Carly Simon and ... Patty Larkin."
“Annie Dinerman is a singer-songwriter with a sense of humor. She reminds me a lot of a next-generation Christine Lavin with a bit stronger language. In these dozen songs, she tackles love, friendship and outer-space politics with equanimity. … "My Ex-Boyfriend" is one of the best songs I have heard about dating on the rebound. …"A King and a Hero" is about baking pies and making romance. This is actually one of my favorite songs on the album. Lyrics and orchestration fit beautifully and the intertwined message is strong. … If you enjoy Lavin's music, this is another artist you will want to check out.”
“Annie Dinerman’s Broken Cookies (Blue Bird Records) is filled with clever, light-hearted (but not flippant), sweet, and sometimes poignant observations of regular people’s real life and love. Native to Ohio, her sound seems like fairly straightforward New York folk — which, apparently, make sense, as she hails from a family of transplanted New Yorkers. Worth hearing, this one.”
"She sounds like Carole King's sister, but a bit warmer, and armed with a guitar instead of a piano. And like King, she's got great songwriting chops. This album is a wonderful collection of story songs and ballads about longing for love, wrapped tenderly in arrangements of acoustic guitar, light percussion, bass and more. "My Ex-Boyfriend" is a conversation with herself about the negative attributes of her ex and how a certain guy reminds her of him. Then, with a clever twist at the end, she thinks, "You remind me of my next boyfriend." Now there's a woman who knows what she wants. "Egyptian Cotton" has a cool, Latin feel. I love "In the Dark," about being awake in the wee hours and hearing her neighbor. Even though he's old enough for a pension, his "mattress is a rock band." It's just not fair if you're the lonely woman next door. My favorite is the title cut, a touching story about the innocence of kids -- sometimes broken cookies just taste better. All of her songs are delicious."
“Annie Dinerman can certainly be called a talent, this second CD being sound proof. She's a singer-songwriter pur sang [thoroughbred] and a comparison to Carole King is easily made. ..."
"She writes fine songs and her lyrics often reveal an autobiographical angle, with personal perspective complementing common emotions, like in the title song “Broken Cookies” ..."
“Broken Cookies” has a lot of memorable moments. “One Planet At A Time”, “Talking with Absent Friends” (a really beautiful title…) and “Shores of Egypt” are examples of excellent folk pop. For me, the most beautiful song is “A King and a Hero”, a lovely piano-driven ballad with a touching chorus that, after a lot of relistening, remains touching.
"... “Broken Cookies” is a real recommendation to people who love the young Carole King, but even when you don't have immediate enthusiasm for the writer and performer of “Tapestry,” “Broken Cookies” is a very enjoyable record. Let's hope the record will find its way to the fans of intelligent and well written music."
"Anything green is music to my ears. Little did I know I would run into a musician who actually uses trash as musical instruments!! Annie Dinerman’s second CD, Broken Cookies, was recorded and released to folk radio late in 2009. Her CD packaging is partially made of recycled paper, and her CD lyrics booklet is in a printable pdf file on the CD itself, which saves paper, too! As a singer/songwriter, Annie sheds light on the world through her witty and charming lyrics. She is frank, intelligent, and fun..."
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While there are plenty of catchy numbers on Broken Cookies, the second full-length album from Ohio native Annie Dinerman, it is her lyrics that set her apart from her peers in the folk-pop category and make her songs memorable. This gift sparkles on “My Ex-Boyfriend,” in which she cleverly starts each line with “You remind me of my ex-boyfriend” but then juxtaposes the ex’s bad qualities with the good qualities of her current love interest. “You remind me of my ex-boyfriend / yet you actually do like your job” or “but you’ve got manners and you’re a thinker.” I smiled at the end, as the song’s refrain changed to “You remind me of my next boyfriend,” indicating that this man has potential after all. Dinerman's love of wordplay is also apparent on “Big Dog,” in which a stubborn canine is a metaphor for a philandering lover. “You broke your leash and ran,” she sings.
The witty lyrics and lovely melody of “One Planet At A Time” make this plea for environmental protection amusing rather than preachy. Dinerman advocates cleaning up Earth before humans explore other worlds, an unconventional, humorous, and insightful position. “This beautiful messed-up world is ours / so why do they spend my taxes on Mars?” The jaunty “In The Dark” concerns a lonely woman who overhears her older neighbor’s romantic escapades through the apartment wall and wonders why she doesn’t have a paramour herself. “He’s got gray hair / he’s got wrinkles / he’s got a pension / he’s got a lover,” she belts out. By the end of the entertaining tune, she rather hopefully decides to rekindle her own love life.
Dinerman's more poignant songs also shine. “Broken Cookies” recounts a memorable incident in which a young girl and her mother buy a box of broken cookies from a bakery and scarf them down in the car; she captures the 4-year-old’s joy of a lark with her mother perfectly, down to the “green icing, powdered sugar, marmalade” cookie bits. Sadly for our young protagonist, her mother refused to buy the broken cookie bits again, and subsequently other sweets were disappointing. The post break-up song “Different Now,” is refreshing as it acknowledges that “life is still a bitch sometimes” and that healing occurs slowly. It is neither a revenge fantasy of a woman scorned or a triumphant tale of dumping a lover and setting out on new adventures, but instead addresses the very real hurt that almost any breakup produces.
While Dinerman's material is solidly in the folk tradition, she displays a mastery of various forms, from the slow, introspective, and melancholy “A King and a Hero” to the no-holds-barred torch ballad “Stole My Soul.” Soaring melodies showcase her rich voice; the instrumentation primarily consists of guitar, bass, piano, and drums but occasionally wanders into wider territory, such as the castanets and conga on “Egyptian Cotton.”
Too often folk music is thought of as low-key, something to be played in quiet coffeehouses as background noise. Dinerman shows that a singer-songwriter can tackle a wide array of topics with humor and heartfelt emotion while making deeply memorable music that will have you humming and tapping your feet.
Songwriters Hall of Fame award winner Annie Dinerman puts her skills and humor to work on Broken Cookies, produced flawlessly by Steve Addabbo, internationally known for his work with Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin. This singer/songwriter with a voice reminiscent of Carole King, winds her way through 12 songs loaded with metaphors and clever quips, creating stories in the vein of Paul Simon and Wendy Waldman.
"One Planet at a Time" is a clever environmental piece that asks us to take care of our planet "before we try to run them all." As singer/songwriter Christine Lavin notes, "'One Planet At A Time' is a gem—imagine a Carole King song for the socially conscious: a catchy tune with a serious message for the 21st century." If that isn't enough, percussionist Rex Benincasa plays "garbage in the recording studio," including plastic bags, a pill bottle filled with pistachio shells, a pizza box, a Snapple® cap, tin can conga drums, pizza sauce can timbales, and a variety of bottles. Social consciousness with a sweet World Music groove.
Along with the serious thread that runs throughout, humor and wit abound. Lyrics like "I was using mama's rolling pin when I had a thought..." mix with melodious piano on "A King and a Hero" to blend beauty and laughs ("I can sing and I can bake good pies"). The remainder of the CD explores love and fun in hard times, losses in the wake of 9/11 and AIDS ("I'm walking all alone, talking to myself, talking with absent friends"), independence and intimacy. In the end, Broken Cookies is all about love
4-1/2 stars of 5
An artist who lays down the previous ups and downs of her life and sings her heart out like a woman on some kind of mission
Bringing you her second album, this New-York based artist evidently has all the right tools to be considered one of the finest singers of this generation. With these twelve songs, I see no reason why this most likeable artist will not achieve this. The lyrics to My Ex-Boyfriend surely do light-up the soul and make the mouth widen with a smile. With its duration of barely just over two minutes, it sure does fit in an awesomely large amount of goodness into its relatively short time-scale. Talking With Absent Friends is similar to Jimmy Buffett’s Everybody’s On The Phone but in a more sensitive way, Annie’s song speaks of her regret not being there in person with her friends which I’m sure is based on her personal experience due to the sincere style in which she sings so lovingly. Although it can be a tad downbeat at times, Different Now has the ability to up its tempo with the click of her fingers. A pro-woman’s rights song sung by an artist who passionately believes in said cause, A King And A Hero really is a cracker of a track.
It remains a mystery why artists such as Annie are not signed to a label, but when she releases albums like this one you have to ask yourself who needs corporate management? I for one hope Annie keeps on this independent road as the path she is following is a fine one indeed. RH
"Lighthearted and emotionally charged, Dinerman's music is an eclectic folk-pop blend that all will enjoy."
“...The idea was to do what the confessional singer-songwriters did in the sixties and seventies and write about my own life in such a way that it would also be about what a lot of other people are living through,” she said, adding that artists like Carly Simon and Joni Mitchel were role models. “They wrote about their lives, and then other people said, ‘Gosh, you wrote about ME.’”
The songs in “Broken Cookies” all deal in some way with the ailing economy, Dinerman said, though the connection is often subtle. There are lyrics about “finding love and fun through frugality in the recession, recovering from depression, losses we feel in the wake of 9/11 and AIDS and our endangered environment. ...”
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Jeff Kart emailed from Bay City, Michigan, asking for photos and links so he could blog about Annie's environmental song, "One Planet At A Time." Jeff really likes the rhythm track. TO READ THE BLOG, CLICK THE LINK BELOW and you'll find out why.
"One Planet At A Time" is on Annie Dinerman's new CD, BROKEN COOKIES.