Minnie Driver


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The idea of the actor moonlighting as a musician is not an uncommon one. Hollywood stars like Kevin Bacon, Keanu Reeves, Jada Pinkett Smith, Juliette Lewis, and Jared Leto have all made the leap from the silver screen to the concert hall (or dive bar) with varying degrees of success, and now Minnie Driver, with her second album Seastories out, can feel confident that she's more than a one-trick pony who relies on production help and a strong band to validate anything she might produce. Not that these things don't exist here, but Driver's a solid enough singer, able to switch from bluesy rock numbers ("Mockingbird," "Mary") to folkier pieces ("Stars & Satellites," "How to Be Good") without too much effort, and though her lyrics aren't always great, she sometimes stumbles across something pretty good ("Sure do sing a pretty song darling.../Like a lark and sweeter than a starling/But mostly like a Mockingbird") and only rarely misses completely ("'Cause you are something/And we are nothing/But love is good"). Which means that Seastories rests comfortably in the realm of the decent, the kind of thing whose pedal steel-laden riffs might strike you at some point, whose layered guitars and sometimes-reverby studio work might actually seem appropriate, whose repeated references to blue eyes might actually seem poignant, though more often these things will not rise above their very ordinariness. She's laid off a little in production here, allowing the organic qualities of her voice, the skills of the musicians (on four songs, members of Ryan Adams' very talented band the Cardinals help craft the careful alt-country that Driver seems especially drawn to, and which fits her well) to come through more clearly, giving more authenticity to what she's doing instead of just confirming her big studio budget. No, Seastories won't blow you away with what it does -- neither in ingenuity nor brilliant interpretations of an already well-developed style -- but it's a substantial enough effort to consider Driver a serious musician, and not just one who messes around with singing in her free time.

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