CD Review: Nellie McKay

Nellie McKay
Pretty Little Head
Hungry Mouse
By David Chiu

Nellie McKay’s latest Pretty Little Head was scheduled to be released months ago but disagreements with Columbia Records led her to be dropped from the label, which postponed its release. Now on a new label, McKay offers another 2-CD helping of quirky, satirical sophisticated pop that follows in the vein of her previous album Get Away From Me. McKay’s bouncy piano-dominated Tin Pan Alley/Burt Bacharach/Laura Nyro-influenced tunes verge between darting numbers such as “Real Life” and the melodic ditty “Pounce” yet she also conveys a subdued, jazzy side on the lovely “Glaad,” the lilting “Pink Chandelier” and the lovely French pop of “Lali Est Paresseux.” The songs are tuneful but the lyrics aren’t exactly facile (“Real Life,” “I Am Nothing There,” “You Are In Me”). McKay’s lyrics can also be as insightful as they scathing as is the case of “The Big One,” where she rails on the problems of today: “welfare mother/profit is the goal/the revolution is comin round/mass eviction.” This young wunderkind has plenty to sing about here on this ambitious set, and it’s only going to get better.

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