[19 March 2012]
There’s an unfortunate tendency within the music criticism community to lump the majority of female singer-songwriters together into some deformed, generic template, unfairly interchanging their Feist with their Fiona Apple, their Jenny Lewis with their Emily Haines. Erin Passmore, best known as the drummer and sometimes vocalist for Canadian indie buzz band Rah Rah, tries to subvert this blunt categorization on her debut solo effort, Downtown, by never sticking to one style for too long. There are driving, Death Cab-style rockers (the title track), woozy R&B crooners (“Rock the Boat”), stripped-down acoustic ballads (“Captain”), and lots more to be found throughout. Passmore’s voice is smooth and honey-like, pleasant even when she decides to up the intensity. The lack of a singular sonic vision does hurt a bit — this is a “pick and choose what you like best” type of album — but Downtown is so warm, listenable, and heartfelt that it’s hard to fault it too much. Passmore may not have fully carved out a niche for herself yet, but Downtown proves that she has the talent to break wholly from that superimposed “Standard Female Musician” tag someday.