[10 August 2011]
Roxane Potvin’s singer-songwriter offering Play begins promisingly enough, with a warm wash of guitars and keyboards, but her wobbly voice soon undercuts whatever groove opening track “Barricades” can muster. This is, unfortunately, the prevailing theme of the record: competent musicianship + weak vocals + head-scratching lyrics = a so-so listening experience. Songs like “Let It Go” and “Keep Your Head” offer a somewhat rocking vibe in which her vocal weakness isn’t as apparent, or as important, but too many other tunes—“You Told Me” and “Pretty Girls” among them—push her voice to the forefront, where it just can’t bear the scrutiny. “Coral Reef Fishes” takes a different tack, with some success: by dropping the vocals to a monotone almost-whisper, with which Potvin can come off as intense rather than limited. It’s a useful trick, but not much of a foundation for an album.