By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Mann's junkie boxer and the hard-luck woman who loves him are by turns inarticulate"baby" their only syllable-filler term of endearmentand marvelously poetic as they stumble through the ruins of faded Virginia fairgrounds. She gives them dignified musical backdrops, her melodies as effortlessly lulling as ever. "She Really Wants You" is as close to a hit single as Mann has written this decade, but "Goodbye Caroline" is the peak, a touching expression of ambivalence from someone who knows no other reaction to stimuli.
As for that forgotten arm: It's Mann's term for "the knockout punch [that] you never see coming," but it also applies to a fighter who only recognizes the power in his arm when poison's entering it. And despite John's threat to throw in the towel after a clean Christmas, Mann knows he'll stumble on, continuing a steady diet of cigarettes and ready veins.
Aimee Mann plays Roseland June 10.