Aimee Mann at UC Theatre 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY SHERYL NIELDS
  • Photo by Sheryl Nields

An album titled Mental Illness by Aimee Mann might seem so on the nose that it risks being a joke. In fact, the title started out as a joke. She explained to her friend that the new album she was working on was “another album about mental illness,” so that’s what she named it. But she uses this overt labeling as a means to talk about the deep, often subtle pain experienced by regular people. “People that are crazier — present company included — are bigger puzzles to solve. And I like a good puzzle,” she said in a behind the scenes feature. Musically, she draws from Seventies easy listening chamber-folk artists such as James Taylor and Gordon Lightfoot. The instrumentation is strictly acoustic guitars, with the occasional string section, backing vocals, and sporadic percussion. This is arguably the most Aimee Man album that Aimee Mann has ever released. And it’s a good one.

Friday, July 14, 8 pm, $35, 2036 University Avenue, Berkeley, AimeeMann.com.

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