Those who like Nellie McKay's smart, witty updating of the cabaret style but either find her lyrics too precious and precocious or are turned off by her rap-influenced forays will latch onto Sylvie Lewis' debut album. Similarly, fans of the Magnetic Fields' more recent chamber pop releases, the late Kirsty MacColl's masterful late-'80s/early-'90s blend of Elvis Costello and Carole King, and those who love Norah Jones but wish she just weren't so darned polite all the time will find much to love. Lewis' throaty vocals, dryly witty lyrics ("My Rival" positions the singer as a teenager frustrated by an older woman's headstart on life, love and happiness before taking solace in the fact that at least her rival will be really old well before she is), and knack for jazzy small combo arrangements that intelligently use subtle orchestration to enhance their basic piano-bass-drums setup. Particular highlights include the dramatic "Conversation Piece," a duet with co-producer Richard Swift that recalls Julee Cruise's two albums with David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, and the appealingly flirty "All His Exes," but the entire album is a mature, richly satisfying delight.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason