Kelly Jones


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Singer Kelly Jones -- not to be confused with the Stereophonics' male singer-guitarist of the same name -- could hardly have made a happier record than Shebang! It's a welcome shift from 2006's Handle with Care, a more introspective but unmemorable effort that tilted toward Americana. This one finds Jones going for pure pop, and she's done her homework, giving impeccable melodic twists and turns to 10 quaint confections toying with the ins and outs of love. Jones' pert voice is perfect for the bright arrangements on tunes like "Fire Escape," "Same Songs," and the oughta-be-a-hit "There Goes My Baby"; the cheeriness is infectious. Unexpected chord and tempo changes enliven the frug-friendly "Lovers," a strong effort from multi-instrumentalist Mike Viola, who proves an ideal writing partner for Jones. As does Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, who co-wrote the tart "Crazy Talk." There and elsewhere, Jones shows she can remain perky and poptimistic even when dismissing someone -- even her kiss-offs are champagne kisses. Shebang! succeeds on every level and easily holds up as one of the best power pop albums of 2008, all placid cool in urban sunshine.

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