Kate Voegele - A Fine Mess
Record Label: Myspace/Interscope
Release Date: May 19, 2009
Along with Sherwood and Hollywood Undead, Kate Voegele has the distinct honor of being one of the initial artists on California's MySpace Records, a joint venture with Interscope that at present has fourteen artists. Voegele's debut Don't Look Away sold 225,000 units and did quite well on West Coast radio. The 23-year-old Ohio native's sophomore album A Fine Mess, is nine analogus bubblegum pop clunkers that never deviate away from their comfort zone and never get daring until the final stretch.
The summery and freewheeling disc was produced by Mike Elizondo, whose most notable contributions to date are Dr. Dre, 50 Cent and Eminem, though he's also worked with Switchfoot, Maroon 5, Alanis Morisette, Pink and Nelly Furtado, to name but a few. The latter three of Morissette, Pink and Furtado say the most about what Elizondo brings to the table on A Fine Mess. Clearly the man knows how to work with female vocals and push them to the forefront, while also managing a solid hook, both of which he does quite well on this album.
There are no real missteps on A Fine Mess but then again it's only nine tracks. The biggest problem is there's nothing entirely memorable or substantial. The album's first three songs are all radio-ready singles, with "99 Times," standing out as the most likely to leave a dent on the Billboard charts. Her attempts at mid-tempo ("Angel") and the playful ("Playing With My Heart") are both strong, with "Playing With My Heart," a veritable LeAnn Rimes knock-off being most notable. Around this point, the disc shows a few more dimensions. Aided by piano, "Sweet Silver Lining," is a sweetly satisfying stab at heartbreak that's panged and somber, and proves that even amidst the muck, there's still something that stands out about her.
"Manhattan From the Sky," is a literary approach at the demise of a relationship, and while it's commendable for it's intentions, it's quite awkward in its simile. Likening a boy to an aerial view of New York City is original and tangible but not exactly proper. Saying that said male is like the city and not is the city is the key difference. But then again, Alanis Morisette got away with muddying syntax on "Ironic" and made a single out of it, so why the heck wouldn't Voegele be able to do that here?
A Fine Mess is not a total wash. There's plenty of accessible and charismatic choruses here that will find favor among many Hannah Montana and pop-country fans, but is that exactly how an artist wants to be defined? Voegele actually has a compelling press kit, including appearances at Farm Aid, past winner of the New York City Songwriters Circle and high praise at the USA Songwriting Competition. But such accolades can only take one so far. The real test will be to see what Voegele does next time out. One can only hope she taps into the singer/songwriter vibe of "Talkin' Smooth," and the piano confessional of "Lift Me Up," and puts together something compelling, creative and crafty, because as it stands now, even with her blossoming acting career, she's a dime a dozen.
I think my sister got her first album because it's on my iPod, but I actually enjoy some of the stuff on it. She has a pretty good voice and although she's not breaking any barriers with her sound I think she makes some good songs. Probably won't pick up this album, but maybe a few songs from it.