Heather Greene

Sweet Otherwise

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Many of the articles written about Heather Greene in 2009 focused on the New York City-based singer/songwriter's work as an American rep for Glenfiddich (a Scotch whiskey that William Grant & Sons have been manufacturing in Dufftown, Scotland, since 1886). It's certainly an interesting, attention-grabbing hook, publicity-wise -- American vocalist becomes the U.S. face of Scottish hard liquor provider, American vocalist spends time in Edinburgh getting in touch with her Scottish/Celtic roots. But what does her music sound like? Sweet Otherwise, Greene's second album, is a captivating adult alternative effort with a slight jazz influence and some trip-hop appeal. Stylistically, her approach could be described as Joni Mitchell by way of Beth Orton, Dido, Sarah McLachlan, and Julia Fordham; subtlety and understatement prevail throughout this 2009 release, and Greene obviously doesn't feel that she has to shout to get her points across. Introspective items such as "Moon Hangs Fire," "Let It Slide," and "In the Game" point to the fact that Greene is the type of pop/rock artist who would rather float than rock, but her use of restraint doesn't mean that she isn't an artist of substance. Actually, Sweet Otherwise has a lot of substance, and the songs on this 44-minute CD have plenty of emotional meat on their bones. Much like the singer/songwriters who have influenced her -- much like Mitchell, McLachlan, Orton, and the others -- Greene demonstrates that artists who speak softly can also be artists who have a lot to say. Sure, it's possible to let albums as understated as Sweet Otherwise quietly fade into the background, although it is much better to turn up the volume, give this album one's full attention, and enjoy Greene's reflections as much as possible. The singer/songwriter field was quite crowded in the late 2000s, but Sweet Otherwise could easily go down in history as one of the more memorable and consistent adult alternative discs of 2009.