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Album review: Juliana Hatfield's 'Peace and Love'

February 15, 2010 |  5:00 pm

Juliana_Hatfield_240 On "Why Can't We Love Each Other," the third song on her bedroom folk album "Peace and Love," Juliana Hatfield sings over a chirpy piano line, "Aren't you tired of being lonely? Aren't you sick of crying your eyes out?" Sunny yet keening, it's like something the Peanuts Gang would've written together in a college dorm, after a few of them had fallen prey to drugs, broken hearts and eating disorders, and lived to tell the tale.

Perhaps it's Hatfield's little-girl voice, still dewy at 42, but no matter what frustrations the former grunge pinup sings about on her 11th solo album, she sounds like she's always grasping for the simple but elusive titular concepts. An intensely personal expression, sometimes to a claustrophobic effect, Hatfield took DIY principles to heart: She produced and engineered the 12-song collection, played all the instruments and released it on her own label.

A departure in style from her polished 2008 studio album, "How to Walk Away," the songstress revisits some familiar themes in her deceptively straightforward compositions, underscoring mournful realizations with bonhomie. In "Let's Go Home," she recounts all the steps she took to impress a lover -- sweeping, stocking the fridge -- to no avail.

In "Evan," the occasional Lemonhead sings about her old friend Evan Dando. Though she's gained a hard-won wisdom since the '90s, she still ends with a slacker's declaration: "Evan, I just love you, I guess."

-- Margaret Wappler 

Juliana Hatfield
 "Peace and Love"
 Ye Olde Records
 Three stars (Out of four)