On her debut album, Lauren Pritchard delivers a set of tunes that draw on the blues and Southern soul for inspiration, with Pritchard playing on the sweet and sour Dixie-fried twang in her voice, accompanied by a rich-sounding production that frequently nods to classic R&B tunes of the past. Of course, given how hard Pritchard strives to sound like a soul diva on these sessions, it's worth noting she's not as authentic as she wants you to believe -- while she was indeed born in Jackson, Tennessee, her previous musical experience consists of working with reggae and teen-pop acts and appearing in the Broadway production of Spring Awakening before relocating to London. So while Pritchard might have you imagine she just hopped off the tobacco truck, she and songwriter and producer Eg White (who has previously collaborated with such soul giants as Duffy and Adele) put a lot of work into giving this music just the right amount of radio-friendly grit, which may be why this album never quite hits the target it aims for, with the songs and production usually giving the game away with their bright sheen around the edges. However, that's not to say Pritchard doesn't prove she's a talent to watch on Wasted in Jackson; if she and White play the "gal done wrong drinking her blues away" card a bit too heavily on these songs, she does have a genuinely impressive voice, and in an era in which vocalists feel they have to prove they have "soul" by strangling every note in a melismatic frenzy, Pritchard has the good sense to play subtle. She might sound like a woman with a grudge against a world that's done her wrong, but she makes it stick without showboating, and when she gets a worthwhile lyric she knows just what to do with it. Wasted in Jackson is the work of a music industry pro who also has a genuine, unaffected natural talent for vintage soul and blues styles, and hopefully she'll get a chance to work with someone who can give her the production and material that will make the most of her gifts.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming