Amy Allison

No Frills Friend

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Amy Allison's odd, nasal vocal tone may be a stumbling block for a lot of listeners -- and that's a shame, for far from any kind of spotlight she has continued to carve out a career as an extraordinary songwriter, and singular performer. Just as her father, the legendary Mose Allison, used his chosen idioms (in his case, jazz and blues) merely as a jumping-off point for his own unique explorations and development, so too has Amy adopted the role of classic country tragedian, channeling it through her own unmistakable sensibilities. And the pop sensibilities that had always lurked around the edges on previous ventures fully rear their heads here. "Baby You're the One" doesn't simply echo the Brill Building mastery of folks like Carole King and Neil Sedaka -- it's just as good as most of those artists' legendary, hook-ridden output from that era. In fact, most of Allison's urban country chanteuse tendencies fall away on this album, surrendering to bittersweet pop intentions. On "Hell to Pay," she opts for drop-dead-pretty wistfulness in a jangly Byrds vein (while "What's the Deal" echoes the expansive, contemplative tones of that bands' latter, Ballad of Easy Rider period). In theme and feel, Amy will always be (as the title of her previous album intimated) a "sad girl," but it's the listener's gain that she is able to sublimate such bruised themes into such wistful and beautiful pop melodies. This album, her most gentle and fully realized yet, was produced in Scotland by Glaswegian David Scott (of the Pearlfishers).

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