My friend George has a designation for the kind of solid, foursquare rock with good songwriting that seems to be out of favor right now—WGWG, or white guys (or girls) with guitars. Bree Sharp is a WGWG, and once you’ve heard her infectiously melodic, lyrically intelligent songs, you’ve got to wonder why you don’t regularly see her on MTV. I guess the two major reasons would be the words “melodic” and “intelligent”, both elements that are the kiss of death to many of the folks who buy records these days.
The album’s opener, “Lazy Afternoon” earns kudos for its indictment of vapid American lifestyles, assailing the fashion and fast food industries with lines like “From the girls in Vogue to the hip-hop chill / It’s okay to trap and kill / In the name of fashion”. It’s easy to miss the message if you are carried aloft by Bree’s lovely melody and hooky guitars—maybe kids will become addicted to this one before they find out there’s a message in it. “Everything Feels Wrong” comes straight from Sheryl Crow territory before Crow sold out to the pleasures of the beach and American Express. The lyrics tell us about trying to forget the object of that recently dissolved romance while doing things that remind us of that person at every turn.
“Galaxy Song” is a beautiful little lullaby that evokes feelings of peace and well being. Not only is it a pretty song with a clever set of space age lyrics, but Sharp’s voice gets a chance to stretch, demonstrating that she can sing outside her power pop comfort zone. Her cover of “Boys of Summer” pumps up the energy to a level Don Henley certainly never imagined, and I enjoy it here despite always having hated this song previously. Perhaps a hint of the reason that Bree hasn’t yet penetrated the mainstream public’s consciousness can be heard in this cover: she’s a little too angry, a little too edgy for the crowd who eagerly devours the likes of Vanessa Carlton or Avril Lavigne. While she writes great melodies, has a pleasing voice, and offers up the kind of rock you’d think would ensure mainstream success, she’s simply not bland enough for the present climate, sometimes reminding me of Sleater-Kinney (another WGWG that I doubt I’ll be hearing on any Clear Channel radio stations anytime soon).
This side of Bree Sharp is further accented by the country-influenced, lo-fi songs “Dirty Magazine” and “Morning in a Bar.” On the former, Bree, in her best white trash girl voice tells us: “I left home at the age of thirteen / With a fist full of cash and a dirty magazine / Now I never cared for the things that I seen / I just want to be in a dirty magazine”. “Morning in a Bar” is like the other side of Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do,” where early morning in a bar brings not only a hangover, but lots of regret and self-loathing.
Sharp has certainly proven that she can get noticed. Her song “David Duchovney” from 1999’s Cheap and Evil Girl got her mentioned in a variety of magazines and earned her the affection of X-Files fans everywhere. That novelty number was merely bait, though, and there was evidence aplenty of her talent on that album. Nonetheless, Sharp has grown a great deal on the way to More B.S. My only hope is that she sticks to her guns and continues to develop her brand of songwriting and performing. Please, God, don’t let me turn on the TV one day and see Bree Sharp all tarted up and unveiling her new middle-of-the-road sound à la Jewel. Let us keep the few WGWG’s that we have left.