The second track, "Driver Education," is singsongy, hazy-happy, as close as Ray will ever get to girl-group candy. But the sweetness hides barbs: you can so enjoy hearing her voice trip over the opening notes, you don't realize she's singing "I fell for guys who tried to commit suicide / With soft-rock hair and bloodshot eyes."
After three songs set in adolescence, she kicks into "Give In," a two-minute punk-rock rave-up and plea for intimacy whose narrator could be thirty-six or sixteen. Unlike the truncated songs on Stag, it's totally satisfying. So are "Rural Faggot," about a confused gay kid on the verge of coming out, and "Covered for You," about love thwarted by self-destruction with a plaintive chorus that's vintage Ray, tragedy transformed into beauty. Of course, Ray and her misfits were never going to put out their spark. By the end of the lead-off track, the title line, "Put it out for good," has become "Let it burn for good."
Ray's spending October on the road with her band the Volunteers, veterans of several southern indie-rock bands. They play the Blind Pig Sunday, October 23.
[Review published October 2005]