Mary Ann Farley

My Life of Crime

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Half a decade passed between Mary Ann Farley's 1997 debut, Daddy's Little Girl, and her sophomore album, My Life of Crime. In an ideal world, Farley -- who is among the more intriguing female singer/songwriters on the East Coast -- would have been coming out with a new album every year (or at least every other year). But if Farley's aim was to take her time with this self-produced CD and get everything right, she accomplished her goal; My Life of Crime lives up to the high standards of its predecessor. In contrast to the folk-rock leanings of Daddy's Little Girl, My Life of Crime is more pop/rock than folk-rock. But however one categorizes this 2002 release, Farley's singing and writing are still distinctive -- and her melodies are quite memorable, whether she is being moody on "Strange and Wonderful" or fun and playful on the wildly infectious "Crush." World music enthusiasts should pay especially close attention to "I'm Your Girl," which successfully combines pop/rock with Spanish and Middle Eastern elements and even uses a bouzouki (one of Greece's traditional string instruments). The only track that Farley didn't write herself is an unlikely remake of the Beatles' "Run for Your Life"; while the Fab Four's original 1965 version (from the classic Rubber Soul) was exuberant power pop, Farley transforms the song into a haunting ballad. The worst thing one can say about My Life of Crime is that it isn't long enough; the disc is only about 37 minutes long, which is skimpy by CD standards. But then, 37 minutes of excellence is certainly preferable to 70 minutes of mediocrity. And even though one can't help but wish that My Life of Crime lasted another half hour, this is an impressive, consistently rewarding follow-up from the Hoboken, NJ-based singer/songwriter.

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