In a post-Sheryl Crow/Shelby Lynne world, Shannon McNally has a real shot of stardom, since there have already been artists who have opened the doors for her classy, urbane, slyly roots singer/songwriterism. That's not to say that McNally is totally indebted to those artists, even if her debut, Jukebox Sparrows, recalls both, along with touches of everyone from Lucinda Williams to Stevie Nicks. It's that she's departing from the same point -- post-alternative singer/songwriter pop, with a heritage in classic rock and a fondness for classic country, but with enough hipness to know when to keep things calm and measured and when to haul out the obligatory trip-hop drum loop. So Jukebox Sparrows is very much an album of its time, at least as far as its musical approach and production is concerned, but what suggests that Shannon McNally is more than a transitory pleasure is the very quality of her material and voice. She has a rich, textured voice that may not quite be distinctive on its own merits, but is pleasing within her tradition, and the songs are tuneful, passionate, and well-written (well, as long as she keeps her ambitions in check -- the Tom Waits-meets-Garbage closing title track gives this fine album a sour aftertaste). This is very much a debut -- at times it's hard to not wish it would soar a little higher or shake off the formula of its genre -- but it's a very enjoyable, promising debut from an artist who could turn into something special.
Jukebox Sparrows Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine