Changing producers can make a big difference for a recording artist. Just ask Mary Ann Rossoni, whose second solo album, Downcity, is a bit of a departure from her first solo outing, Half Slips & Garters. Rossoni is still a folk-oriented singer/songwriter, and she is still an impressive storyteller whose influences range from Christine McVie and Grace Slick to Joni Mitchell and Suzanne Vega. But this time, Rossoni's songs (which combine folk, rock, and pop) tend to have more bite and more of an edge. Under producers Tim Rochon and Joe Sanders, Rossoni often goes for a somewhat tougher, grittier approach. While producer John Paul Gauthier went for a subtle, acoustic-oriented ambiance on Half Slips & Garters, Rochon and Sanders make Downcity more amplified. "Drama Queen" and "Conversations," in fact, are especially rockin' and have a lot of Americana appeal. But those who valued the sensitivity of Half Slips & Garters need not worry about Rossoni turning into a hard rock vixen; when Rossoni rocks, she is closer to Melissa Etheridge or Joan Osborne than Lita Ford, Courtney Love or Joan Jett. Rossoni would still fit right in on a Lillith Fair stage, and she brings plenty of sensitivity to reflective originals like "Rain Fall," "Dead Limb," and "Mother of the Heart." For Rossoni, being more amplified doesn't mean sacrificing sensitivity or nuance. Downcity is a fine sophomore effort, and it is every bit as appealing as Half Slips & Garters in its own way.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson