I like Eef Barzelay.
How could I not? Barzelay is a funny man, and the depth of his sense of humor and the old-fashioned skill of twisting words has not been seen since Roger Miller left the world. Though he's often been dismissed as smug and slightly sarcastic, his lyrics speak of every and all form of human emotion, experience and speak directly to your heart. True, it's not easy being smart, but Barzelay doesn't seem too embarassed by it, nor does he let his skill stand in the way of the song. At their smartest, they're quite effective, and they speak in universal truths, even when they're being 'arty'.
See, a lesser band would automatically be labeled as 'ironic' if they were to cover a Christina Aguilera song, but Barzelay does it with such overwhelming sincerity that you can't help but accept him at his word. As he sings "you are beautiful, no matter what they say/words can't bring you down," you quickly realize that he has the same powerful impact as a preacher joyously proclaiming the word of God. Does this mean that Barzelay is a preacher for the down-and-out set? Perhaps. It's a pretty powerful song to start out the EP, and it's one that will have you hitting the repeat button.
The rest of A Beautiful EP may not be as powerful as that home run, but it's still pretty good stuff. "All Green" is a choice cut from last year's maligned Soft Spot, and taken out of context, it's a rather powerful little number. "Mike Galinsky" is kind of a droning little tale about one of society's lesser beings, and it ends with a wonderful surprise. "I'll Be Your Mirror" is indeed the Lou Reed/Velvet Underground classic, and stripped down to just acoustic guitar and Barzelay's overwhelmingly sincere singing, he makes this neglected classic come alive and new all over again. "Nick Drake Tape" is another nice little B-side gem, though it's too brief.
Someone said that Clem Snide readjusted this one for Europe, with additional covers, including Lynyrd Skynyrd. Bastards! Still, don't fret; A Beautiful EP is a great little record, and if you need a quick convincing that Barzelay's one of today's better songwriters, then this little record will quickly serve that purpose. Clem Snide's music is a balm for trouble times, and this record will certainly soothe your soul.