Polly Paulusma

Fingers & Thumbs

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There seems to come a time in the career of every singer/songwriter when he or she decides to start rocking. Polly Paulusma's first record consisted of tender balladry, although not without its tug of exuberance (think Edie Brickell). The accompaniment was mostly acoustic guitar, with some strings to vary the mood. Why she decided to plug in after just one album is an interesting question, but regardless, it proves to be a good idea. The knock against Paulusma in the past was that she was a little too Meredith Brooks. Her songs were performed with an eye to maximum melodramatic effect, and they occasionally came across as cloying or ersatz (call it singsong singer/songwriter). Even if her lyrics occupied a higher level altogether -- she's a former writer, after all -- the performances didn't seem to fit the songs. Both the performances and songs on her second album, Fingers & Thumbs, are much better (and performed better). The thrust of the material may not vary much, just the basic singer/songwriter material of love and loss (which she experienced much of between albums, with two miscarriages and finally a successful pregnancy). The arrangements may be slightly monochromatic -- electric guitars strummed in a similar fashion to acoustic guitars -- but Paulusma has grown as a performer and as a singer of her songs.

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