Penelope Houston by Nellery Hill
Though she rose to fame with seminal Cali-punk band The Avengers, Penelope Houston has had an equally fruitful career as a pioneering singer-songwriter. The same courage that allowed her, as a 20 year old girl, to front a punk band in the late 70’s has informed her music at every step of her career. While other bands were scrambling in the early 80’s to catch up to the progressive sound of The Avengers, Houston had already moved on to other things, linking up in San Francisco with experimental artists like the Violent Femmes and Tom Waits. Her most recent album, On Market Street, sees her continuing to push herself in new musical directions.
One one hand, “You Reel Me In” is a nice, pleasant slice of Americana rock. On the other hand, lyrically, it’s a tough song about the choices Houston has made in her life and the consequences she’s lived with. She shows little pity as she takes a cold, hard look at herself, and lines like, “I was all set up/ In my pretty, little prison,” cut like a knife.