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L is for lovin'

L is for lovin'


The L Word soundtrack is loaded with luscious lyricism for when you're feeling lascivious

On the L Word episode when everyone drove out to the Dinah Shore golf tournament, the gals sang "Closer to Fine" a thousand times on the overnight journey. But let's be real: Alice, Jenny, and Dana are not the only ones who could use some new tunes. Your Ani DiFranco CDs have developed an obnoxious habit of skipping, and those Portishead albums that worked so well on the girls in college are losing their magic powers. Fortunately, the L Word universe is here to breathe new life into any lackluster music collection--just in time for some summer romance.

The soundtrack to the show's first season is a brilliantly conceived date album, designed to take you from the polite offer of the nightcap all the way to whatever you invited your sweetie inside to do. Nearly all the songs are relaxed and melodic, floating between folk and pop, with no heavy metal guitars or bombastic rock bands to break the mood. There's a good balance between enduring lesbo faves--Joan Armatrading's anguished "The Weakness in Me," Lucinda Williams's yearning "Right in Time"--and tunes by newer artists like the bluegrass-tinged Be Good Tanyas and a talented torch-song diva named Fantcha.

Some of the tracks are masterpieces of songwriting--Armatrading's early-'80s output is nearly flawless, and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"--performed excellently here by Rufus Wainwright; it was also on the first Shrek soundtrack--is about as gut-wrenchingly perfect a treatment of complex love as anybody's ever written. Other songs, like "Blue Sky" by Broken Social Scene's Jason Collett, are throwaways that you'd never want to hear on the A side of a single but that fit perfectly well here as mood extenders.

There are several awful tracks at the very end of the CD, including some tiresome trip-hop by Kinnie Starr and an unlistenable late-period travesty from Marianne Faithfull. But by the time these songs roll around, over half an hour's worth of music has already come and gone. By then, with a little of that other L word (luck), neither you nor your date will be paying too much attention to the music anyway.

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Sara Marcus