8½ Souvenirs

Twisted Desire

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Since it begins with a seemingly ironic reading of ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man," it would be easy to dismiss 8 1/2 Souvenirs' third album Twisted Desire as another tongue-in-cheek Gen-X retro-swing folly. That may be the knee-jerk reaction, but it's an unfair one, because the rest of the album reveals that the band is far more sophisticated, suave, and seductive than most of their peers. No small credit goes to Chrysta Bell, the lead singer whose rich voice brings style and grace to every song, even that misdirected cover that begins the album. Then again, songwriter Olivier Giraud shares equal credit with Bell for being able to write clever, engaging songs, and the entire band shows good taste in picking outside material, such as Walter Hyatt's "Lonely in Love," as well. The end result is a surprisingly enjoyable record that shouldn't be lumped in with the smarmy schtick that usually passes for retro-swing.

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