Ginger Mackenzie

Kismet

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    8
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For Kismet, Ginger Mackenzie remixed five tracks from her largely acoustic debut, pairing them with five new songs. It's a confident collection of well-executed adult alternative pop, drawing on the confessional style of Jewel ("Conditional," "Love Is Hell"), but nodding to modernism with scratchy production and touches of programming. Single "The Garden of You and I" is a definite highlight; it showcases Mackenzie's conversational lyrical style and expressive voice over a jangling acoustic riff. Jewel might have hit it big by alternating whispered asides with throaty chorus vocals, but she doesn't own the trademark, and Mackenzie applies it with a style that's as comfortable as a comfy sweater on a chilly morning. "Sometimes I'd rather fight than think about starting over with somebody new," she sings, "but I got kinda used to you." The final line is added in a scrunched-up voice, the kind of tone girlfriends use in private. All of this clouds-in-my-coffee relationship stuff can get a little tired; "Standing Still" seems to be a run-on sentence built entirely of diary-entry clich├ęs. But Mackenzie can usually bolster the weaker parts with her energetic vocals, and the twinges of production add some depth to what might otherwise be unremarkable instrumentation. "I'm Not Leaving You" drops in a droning cello and a cool half-time drumbeat to give some real atmosphere to the song, while closer "Surface of My Soul" gets even more ambitious with a moody synth bottom end and heavily reverbed, Sarah McLachlan-style vocals. Kismet has a tendency to skew too close to its influences. But this kind of music isn't as much about constant innovation as it is genuine feeling, and ultimately that's what makes Mackenzie's tunes resonate.

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