album reviews

Dirtie Blonde
Dirtie Blonde
Zomba/Jive (2006)

The cover photograph of Dirtie Blonde's self-titled debut reveals the group's namesake: singer Amie Miriello, whose raspy, Ani DiFranco-style vocals are the crux of the quintet's sound. But Miriello shares little in common with DiFranco besides that throaty sing-speak; Dirtie Blonde's songs are a bouncy, catchy pop-rock that would fit nicely alongside Alanis Morissette and Nelly Furtado.

Although off-putting at first, Miriello's hoarse voice is a welcome change from the glossy, pitch-perfect vocals of most Top 40 pop. That gruffness works in her favor, making her seem coyly detached rather than desperate on such flirtatious lines as "I don't have the best of luck/With making these things last" ("Walk Over Me"). Even when her rapid-fire lyrics push her voice into a shriller register, as on the fast-paced choruses of "Bend Over," she never sounds whiny, instead recalling the self-confident sass of "Tragic Kingdom"-era No Doubt.

Unfortunately, the group never really says much new. Miriello even admits as much in the opening lines of "Hard Times": "The same old story/A girl meets a boy/And they fall in love too fast." The rest of the lyrics could refer to just about any Hollywood chick flick, making Dirtie Blonde seem more generic than Miriello's unusual sound deserves.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 26 May 2006, Page WE08
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