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Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008

Jenny Magnus

Songs from Shows (Uvulittle Records)

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  The liner notes for Songs from Shows, a collection of musical pieces from Chicago performance artist Jenny Magnus, credit such instruments as leather gloves, a Kleenex box, a manual typewriter, a barrel rolling down the hall and a busted organ.

  It's fun to listen for each of them, although detecting the paper fan remains particularly challenging. And while each of the 23 works, ranging in length from 68 seconds to almost four-and-a-half minutes, no doubt makes much more sense in its original context, highlights include the ones on which Magnus reveals a lovely voice resonant for both the stage and the studio. Case in point: "String of Pearls," a piano-based song with a slight country-western lilt that plays at odds with goofy ditties like the tribal and hypnotic "Dormant" and the relentlessly obnoxious "Part Time Party."