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Roxane Potvin

Play

(Black Hen Music; US: 19 Apr 2011; UK: 19 Apr 2011)

Competent, usually, singer-songwriter assortment

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.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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