Erin McKeown

Sing You Sinners | Nettwerk
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  January 16, 2007
070119_INSIDE_ERIN
With Madeleine Peyroux and Norah Jones as ingrained in the cultural fabric as cockroaches in an Allston student flat, there isn’t much refreshing about yet another pop singer’s taking a whack at a few pages in the Great American Songbook. In fact, on the heels of Peyroux’s cash-in on the Starbuck’s easy-listening set, McKeown’s Sing You Sinners seems like just another sop. But in the four-page softball interview that serves as the CD’s liner notes, the indie singer-songwriter assures us it’s not. And at times she and her band sound inspired, as when she tears off a jazzy little guitar solo in the title track, or when her group’s calypso shuffle arrangement of “Paper Moon” — driven by this disc’s secret musical star, drummer Allison Miller — provides a shot of vitamin B. Dipped in several coats of playful irony, McKeown’s own “Melody,” matches the spirit of the numbers written by the likes of Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, and Johnny Mercer, and Fats Waller’s weedy “If You a Viper” is a welcome surprise. But these tracks suffer from an overriding sameness, with McKeown playing her voice as a trump card. Her singing is pretty and crisp, but the limitations of her range are obvious when she flexes hard, and more so against the backdrop of this repertoire’s history. Precious and uninteresting as it may be, Sing Your Sinners will probably bring her to a new mocha-latte-loving audience.
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