Nellie McKay 

Pretty Little Head

The friends for whom I've played Nellie McKay fall squarely into one of two camps: those who find the young singer-songwriter smart and stylish, and those who dismiss her as calculated and cloying. Truth is, McKay's piano-driven cabaret pop is all of the above, and how you'll feel about it depends entirely on how much drama club geekiness you can stomach. On Pretty Little Head -- sequel to her double-disc (!) '04 debut Get Away from Me -- the twentysomething New Yorker channels cosmopolitan jazz vocalist Blossom Dearie, layers in early Billy Joel's bravado and acerbic wit, then delivers the final package with a wink and a nod. This formula generally works well (most notably on clever, catchy cuts like "Cupcake" and "The Down Low"), but some songs -- especially those that strive too officiously to be topical -- come off as a touch insincere. Still, you just can't hate on talent this vibrant, independent, and ambitious -- we absolutely need more musicians like her.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Latest in CD Reviews

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

Holiday Guide 2016

A guide to this holiday season's gifts, outings, eats, and more.

Taste, Fall 2016

Everything you need to know about dining in and out in the East Bay.

© 2017 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation