In many ways, Kate Voegele is the new version of Michelle Branch or Vanessa Carlton: a fresh-faced young singer-songwriter who writes gutsy songs about boy troubles. Of course, a guest-acting gig on "One Tree Hill" certainly didn't hurt her popularity; on the show, Voegele played the role of singer-songwriter Mia Catalano, which afforded her copious opportunities to play and promote her music on-screen.
While Voegele does have her share of happy love songs ("Lift Me Up" and "Inside Out"), the more interesting tracks here are the feisty ones. The brazen "99 Times" finds Voegele fuming at a lover who has lied to her, and on "Playing With My Heart," she sassily scolds a boy who's playing mind games with her. Even the tender "Manhattan From the Sky" hides implications of a troubled and complicated love interest just beneath its sweet surface.
These sentiments are nothing new, of course, but Voegele's spin on them nicely fills the void left during the hiatus in Branch's solo career. Her lively, up-tempo pop-rock is certainly an enjoyable listen, if a bit too brief -- the nine tracks on "A Fine Mess" clock in at barely 35 minutes.
-- Catherine P. Lewis