Here we have an album full of superior, female soft-country-rock, but with the very best track delivered by a bloke with a girl's name in the form of a vociferous track titled Hush.
A bit confusing perhaps, but the music itself is right on the money.
The chap in question, with the girlish moniker, is one Angie Aparo. His song might be called Hush but there's plenty of dynamics in both arrangement and performance. Tough guitars, strong linear melody and impressive vocals evoke all the class of vintage hard rock with the edge of post-grunge, adult-alternative attitude.
But the bulk of this soundtrack tends to the distaff side, and the softer side, which isn't to say these chanteuses don't pack a punch.
Morcheeba frontlass Skye Edwards has enough oomph as well as sweetness in her folk-tinged voice to ensure hit status for their radio friendly Rome Wasn't Built In A Day. Riding on a smoothly balanced production of funky guitar and deliciously sleazy brass she makes the most of a quintessential pop melody that is instantly catchy without really capturing one's soul.
Leigh Nash has a similarly pleasant folk-pop tone that is the best feature of the rather shallow, if shimmeringly produced, Need To Be Next To You. She's billed solo on this album opener, but reappears later in the piece with her band Sixpence None The Richer. In this instance I don't feel she quite has the grunt (maybe she should could hit on Russell Crowe for the loan of a foot or two) to do justice to a pulsing rock groove. For some reason a number of recent soundtrack selections are sounding like old U2 feels to me, and this one too seems to be crying out for some Bono-style heavy emoting.
A couple of star songstresses - Sarah Mclachlan and Sophie B. Hawkins - pass by pleasantly but not imposingly; I'm a big fan of both, but their contributions here are shadows of their best work, whilst Carly Simon's timeless old style gets a new sound, and both Tara Maclean and Anika Paris blend beautifully with acoustic guitars on Divided and No Ordinary Girl respectively. Divided evokes the most sultry, seductive mystique I've heard since Natalie Merchant's Carnival, and Paris's number delivers appealing bite in a Natalie Imbruglia vein.
Biggest disappointment though is the none-too-original electronic beats of BT. No sooner do I sing his praises for the brilliant Tom Jones cut on the Miss Congeniality soundtrack than, without the support of the Welsh sex machine's rare gifts, he sinks in a mire of technological tedium.
Published March 8, 2001