The City on Film - American Diary (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The City on Film

American Diary (2005)


WIth this six-song EP, Mr. Robert Nanna and friends (including members of Minus the Bear, a dog, and a broken bottle) bring you some of his most diverse songs put to disc. Proving himself as a prolific songwriter, Bob had alredy put out a full-length earlier in the year and toured both the U.S. and the U.K. Busy, busy, busy.

"Mary, I'm Ready" shows Bob's indie-folkie side with layered finger-picked guitars and faraway through bullhorn vocals. It's your sort of back-porch-on-a-summer-day-with-a-glass-of-lemonade song. Nah, scratch that. It's more of a lullaby than anything. This is an end-of-the-day-laying-in-bed-with-a-teddy-bear-lullaby.

"Pony's Last Trick" and "You're Gonna Need That Patience Soon" are what you'd expect in the way of full band City on Film songs: Melodic, poppy, and stripped down and simplified compared to Hey Mercedes or Braid, which isn't a bad thing. Most importantly, these songs as track two and track four, respectively, sandwich the countryish stomp of "Astray! Astray!" I say countryish, because Bob has a problem leaving his aging indie rock / folk hero songwriting out of anything he's ever done. Which isn't a bad thing either.

"Well It Goes Like This" is a slowed done, much more mature track with an almost R & B beat and soft picked electric guitars with an echoing phrase (try to guess what it is [hint: It's the title of the song]) over the top of it. I guess you might say it's Bob at his most Phil Collins, which isn't a bad thing. Following the progression of the album, it fits nicely as a transition between the upbeat "You're Gonna Need That Patience Soon" and the closer, "Conclusion," which is an instrumental mirror of "Mary, I'm Ready" that fades from doubled acoustic guitars to guitar and piano to just piano to doubled piano, proving that EPs too can be structured. Classy, Mr. Nanna. I like it.