Writer/director Abe Sylvia's film Dirty Girl concerns Danielle (Juno Temple), a teenager with behavioral issues in Oklahoma in 1987 who takes off on a trip to find her father in California, accompanied by her gay friend Clarke (Jeremy Dozier). Sylvia, who clearly had a heavy hand in the choices of period pop music used in the film, makes Clarke a big Melissa Manchester fan, and six of the 14 tracks on the soundtrack album were written or performed by Manchester. (Meanwhile, Wendy & Lisa's "The Life" sounds so much like a Manchester song it might as well be one.) That gives a hint of the director's concept, which turns out to date mostly from the several years prior to the action onscreen. Manchester's hits date back to the ‘70s in some cases. The nearly all-female track list is filled with women who were at their commercial peaks in the ‘80s, including Pat Benatar, Sheena Easton, and Teena Marie. Those three provide the uptempo material, though most of the music consists of ballads, among them an acoustic version of the Outfield's hit "Your Love" and a Rita Coolidge cover of Yaz's "Only You." (The latter is erroneously credited in the CD booklet as being the Platters hit "Only You [And You Alone]." For the record, the song was written by Vince Clarke, not Buck Ram and Ande Rand.) But it's Manchester who dominates, whether in her bouncy pop hit "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" or the heart-rending torchers "Midnight Blue" and "Don't Cry Out Loud." It has been suggested by movie reviewers that the title Dirty Girl suggests something more salacious than what the film turns out to be, and the same thing can be said of a soundtrack largely devoted to early-‘80s pop nostalgia.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann