Talented trio offers a lively debut.
Fiery Blue is a three-piece built around Simone Stevens's sultry vocals, Gabe Rhodes's multi-instrumental talents and Paul Marstellar's songwriting. At their best, as on opener "Crystal Ball", Stevens's vulnerable but resolute vocals provide a counterpoint to the muscular guitars and keyboards. The country vibe is never too far away, as on "Our Secret" and the violin-inflected "Little Red Shoes", but it's the straight-ahead midtempo rockers -- "Wheels Up", for example -- that tend to be more memorable. At her weakest, Stevens comes off as a Lucinda Williams wannabe, as on "Our Secret", an otherwise strong song. And who the heck advised the band to cover "I've Just Seen a Face", reversing genders so "him" is the rhyme for "aware" and "boy" for "world"? Bad idea, guys.