Jill Sobule was kissing girls decades before Katy Perry even knew what lips were for, and her 1995 hit "I Kissed a Girl" remains witty, catchy and barrier-busting in ways that Perry's calculated titillation never even tries to imagine. But Sobule is more than a novelty one-hitter. At her best, she melds social commentary and folk-pop tunefulness into left-field satires that stick. This year she released California Years, an easygoing, acoustic-based album underwritten by donations from fans, which offers some indication of her marketing savvy and production coffers. Whether border-crossing for cheap drugs, searching for the elusive Bobbie Gentry, coming to grips with failure or confronting a youth-obsessed industry, she can still make you think, feel and hum along in unexpected ways.
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