Cherry Marmalade

Kay Hanley

Zoe Records, 2002

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Kay Hanley appears to be one of those itinerant popsters who's been around the block a couple of times. The former lead vocalist of alt-rock band Letters to Cleo (as well as the voice behind my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Josie And The Pussycats -- a dubious credit at best), she's now gone solo, and has released her first (and apparently long-delayed) solo CD, Cherry Marmalade.

Hanley's music is described on the Rounder Records site as 'infectious, sassy pop'. That's a pretty fair assessment. This isn't lofty music with high pretensions; this is a woman with a backing band singing about relationships and other personal things. As long as you understand that, this isn't too bad. It's well produced and engineered, and the backing musicians are competent. There are a couple of misjudgments in the mix (specifically "Mean Streak" -- someone get that woman's vocals out of the sewer, please) but overall there are no technical flaws on the CD.

Hanley's voice is…pleasant. It won't send chills up and down your spine, it won't blow you away with its power and grace, but it's nice to listen to. It's undemanding. Fact is, 'undemanding' might describe this entire CD; it doesn't ask anything of you, doesn't take too many chances, doesn't stretch any boundaries. It's not quite down to the puerility of girl-pop, but this isn't Sarah Brightman. Hell, this isn't even Sheryl Crow.

There are a few tracks that stand out. The opening "Fall" is catchy and fun; "Satellite" works Hanley's vocal style a little, and "Sheltering Sky" has a hook like Peter Pan's nemesis. There are a few other tracks that don't work as well; "Shady Saves The Day" is mostly flat, and "Princely Ghetto" didn't do anything at all for me.

I suppose it's what you should expect from a CD titled Cherry Marmalade. Mostly sweet and bright, but on some level insubstantial. If you like your pop plain, this CD is for you; fans of more complexity should look elsewhere.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Zoe Records, and is used for informational purposes only.