Stephanie Kirkham

That Girl

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Stephanie Kirkham's debut is a collection of nicely appointed folk-pop tunes, her whispery lilt and acoustic strum accompanied nicely by subtle electronic programming. The single "Inappropriate" fortifies that formula, weaving Kirkham's charmingly accented flutter and the layers of backup harmonies around a piano hook break and rambling electric guitar. The result is catchy and polite, quite suggestive of the Corrs' 2000 hit, "Breathless." In fact, most of That Girl is catchy and polite, exceedingly so. The title cut tracks the Sundays through light electronics; Kirkham's lyrics tell the usual modernist story of a strong-willed yet fussily romantic girl stuck in a relationship with a cute mechanic. Please open your diaries to page 36. Elsewhere, the delicate "When You Were Here" and "Never in a Million Years" threaten with each plink of synthesizer or codependent lyric to drift away, while the brooding "Blank White Sheet" seems to have wandered in from a Loreena McKennitt album. It's in this way that That Girl is pretty, but also pretty referential. From "Monday Morning"'s "Maybe his eyes will meet mine/You never know when your life might change" to "Your problems are not my problems anymore/After this I'll change my number for sure" (from the Dido-ish electronic putter of "Somebody Else's Girl"), That Girl turns back and forth between hoping for happiness and wishing it never came. It's OK that Kirkham doesn't have the answers. But her tools for asking the questions could use some sharpening. Still, she has an attractive if thin voice, and her music should be warm, shimmering, and inviting for fans of the genre.

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