As Tammy Wynette so famously sang back in 1969, "It's hard to be a woman," and Sara Melson, for one, is still finding it tough going. Torn between her desire for independence and her need for a good man, the singer/songwriter is forever running to and away from love. Most women (and surely quite a few men) will be able to commiserate. But to quote another 1969 hit (a quite fateful year it turned out), this time from Peggy Lee, "Is that all there is?" Apparently so for Melson, whose entire debut album, Dirty Mind, is almost entirely given over to musings on the subject. But for all her claims of an "independent streak," the only real sign of that is found on the opening track, "Feel It Coming." From there on out, it's all about love, looking for it, finding it, and holding onto it. So much for learning to live on one's own. Melson's vocals provide more variety than her lyrics, her delivery ranging from little girl winsome to tough as nails broad. Her music is equally diverse, encompassing Rolling Stones-lite flavored rockers and Go-Go's styled poppers, pretty piano ballads and far lusher galas. Melson herself provides the excellent piano work and acoustic guitars, supported by a large cast of musicians. The coursing "Anywhere Anytime" and the poppy "Don't Know You Wanna Know" seem ready-made for radio play, "Fall Down" cries out for a club remix, "Rise Up," with its musical crescendos, is the set's show-stopper, with the grandiose "Nuclear Sun" the obvious encore. The lyrics may not appeal to all, but the music most certainly will.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene