GrooveLily

Little Light

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    8
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Four years passed between GrooveLily's 1996 debut Jungle and Sky and its next full-length album, Little Light. Between those two CDs, the group's members had no problem keeping busy. Keyboardist Brendan Milburn had a 1998 side project called Brendan & the Extenuating Circumstances, while lead singer/violinist Valerie Vigoda spent a lot of time backing major artists like Cher, Cyndi Lauper, and Joe Jackson. And as a group, GrooveLily provided a 1997 EP titled GrooveLily Sampler. By 2000, a new full-length album was overdue, and Little Light has no problem living up to the promise of Jungle and Sky; if anything, it's slightly stronger. Like before, GrooveLily favors an introspective, poetic approach to pop/rock. Subtlety usually prevails on this CD and, although expressive, Vigoda doesn't beat you over the head to get her points across. But for all their subtle introspection, tracks like "Captain of a Ship on Fire," "Weight of the World," and "Prayer for the Unrequited" are never wimpy; in GrooveLily's hands, sensitive doesn't mean wimpy or waifish. To her credit, Vigoda knows how to let her sensitivity show without coming across as a victim or a fragile waif. One of the most interesting, thought-provoking tracks is "Little Nemesis," which is about a woman showing different sides of herself in a relationship; the nice, congenial, girl next door usually prevails but the dominatrix occasionally needs to make her presence felt. Equally interesting is an unlikely and totally unexpected cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is"; originally, the tune was a stereotypical 1980s power ballad, but GrooveLily increases the tempo and turns it into a mixture of adult alternative and reggae -- sort of Sarah McLachlan or Paula Cole by way of Shaggy. Was Little Light worth the four-year wait? Absolutely.

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