The retro CD cover and killer Bobbi Gentry hairdo don't fully set the tone for what Grey De Lisle is all about on this genre-hopping head-scratcher.

The retro CD cover and killer Bobbi Gentry hairdo don't fully set the tone for what Grey De Lisle is all about on this genre-hopping head-scratcher. The opening narration and smoldering musicality of "Borrowed and Blue," an ambitious blend of adventurous production, impressive lyrics, and passionate vocals, are 1970 country, but things change quickly with "Usted," a Spanish-language powerhouse. Later, "Beautiful Mistake" quite effectively taps into De Lisle's Tammy Wynette impulses but leans way too heavily on country lyric clichés to the point of condescension; the punkish "The Hole" may be more indicative of De Lisle's true musical leanings. Too often, De Lisle's intriguing vocals are overshadowed by distracting studio tactics, iffy musicianship, and a muddy mix. There's some strange stuff here, too: De Lisle manages to make a "Dead Cat" sexy, and "Showgirl (I'm Sorry)" takes on a country soap-opera vibe that might sound more appropriate on a Meat Loaf record. Conversely, " 'Twas Her Hunger" effectively melds strong lyrical content with one of De Lisle's better vocal efforts and an understated acoustic backing. She also crams heart and passion into the self-penned "Ferris Wheels and Freakshows" that's as interesting as it is hard to nail down. Despite the unevenness of this project, De Lisle does prove to be a fearless artist—with style to burn. For info, log on

to greydelisle.com.—RW

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