The home recording project of an L.A.-based multimedia artist/philosophy student who wields an eight-track cassette recorder and cites freestyle divas Lisa Lisa and Debbie Deb as among her primary influences, Nite Jewel's effectively self-released debut album holds the potential to be many things, few of them particularly promising: dryly intellectual, artily indulgent, self-consciously ironic, vapidly modish, unlistenably amateurish. Indeed, it can be a bit off-puttingly stuffy, with an occasionally discernible whiff of pretension that may incline some more critical-minded and discriminating listeners to dismiss it out of hand, and its production values are undeniably negligible, but taken on its own terms Good Evening is a good deal more singular, intriguing, and difficult to characterize than one might initially suspect. A perplexing conflation of rudimentary electronic dance-pop with wobbly lo-fi experimentalism, it lacks the energy and melodic distinctiveness to be effective as either pop or dance, but it works quite nicely as mood music, maintaining a similarly beguiling, woozy atmosphere across its ten tracks. Ramona Gonzalez's analog synthesizers and high, swooning vocals, swathed in tape hiss and bleary-eyed reverb, offer a warmth and tenderness that are largely absent from her darker, moodier cohorts in the Italians Do It Better camp, and though she may have all the right '80s signifiers in place to evoke that label's achingly stylish post-disco mode, there's something guilelessly genuine and personable about her approach, knowing as it may be. (The inimitable, idiosyncratic Arthur Russell has been tossed around as a reference point, and while she can't measure up to his uncanny appeal, it's a surprisingly relevant comparison in terms of both sonics and overall effect.) Good Evening's weakest point, aside from the non-issue of its non-danceability, is its songs: as an undifferentiated half-hour mass they're perfectly fine, but apart from the meekly melodic "Artificial Intelligence " and a wormy synth line or two on "What Did He Say," nary a hook pokes out from the haze, and not simply because Gonzalez keeps her vocals smothered and distant. So it's a welcome change of pace when the album concludes with a cover of Roxy Music's "Lover," which might qualify as the album's best track simply by dint of having a perceptible tune and structure.
AllMusic Review by K. Ross Hoffman