album reviews

Girl Authority
Road Trip
Zoe/Rounder (2007)

Take away the armband tattoos and tongue piercings of the Spice Girls and you have the nine girls in the tween-pop group Girl Authority. The girls range in age from 9 to 14, and they have easy-to-identify-with personality nicknames, just like the Spice Girls: "Preppy Girl" Zoe dons a Burberry skirt, "Country Girl" Crystal sports cowboy boots and "Boho Girl" Jess's flowing skirt matches her wavy tresses. Girl Authority even endorses the same girl-power message as its British predecessors; the chorus of the group's theme song features a jubilant singalong of "Girl Authority, be the girl you wanna be!"

For a group that promotes individual empowerment, it's strange that its liner notes and Web site give no indication of who sings lead on which song. That is unfortunate, as several of the girls have voices stronger than expected of a karaoke-style singalong group. The soloist on Tom Cochrane's "Life Is a Highway" has a warm twang reminiscent of Michelle Branch, while the girl who handles Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine" captures the original's exuberance with a youthful flair.

On Martina McBride's "This One's for the Girls," the group brings an uncanny realness to the verse about high school bullying, but later verses offering advice for older women seem a bit hollow. Ultimately, the songs that work best for Girl Authority are those that are timeless and ageless: "The Loco-Motion" and Madonna's "Holiday" reflect the carefree fun that the tween years should be all about.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 20 April 2007, Page WE06
.: Road Trip on