Some good CDs make you smile, some make you dance, and some make you cry.

Emily Haines's Knives Don't Have Your Back belongs in the last category: bittersweet, but infectious all the same. The Metric frontwoman and moonlighting member of Broken Social Scene develops a stripped-down sound here that's reminiscent of Fiona Apple or Feist.

With the loss of the catchy beats and choruses that made Metric famous comes greater attention to Haines's thoughtful lyricism. Each song is actually a sort of musical short story, and this four-year project tells poetic tales of pain and loss that are understated rather than overblown.

I'm not sure what this says about my gender, but it's rare to find a female solo artist who can express emotion without whining or make a statement without being repetitive. With profoundly interesting, meditative lyrics and a dynamic, compelling voice, Emily Haines brings excitement and quirkiness to a record based on quiet introspection.

- Sarah Birnbaum


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