Released: March 2018
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh
Color me happy.
I have been having to review so much Metal and it rankles on me. Not because I don’t love Metal but because so little of any less genre-specific material of any merit seems to be out there. Especially in Pop, even more especially with female singers. Sure there are plenty of Christletitstop Aguilera/Trailer Swift/Lady Gargle wannabees out there but unique female Artists are almost an extinct species.
Enter Shaina Taub who is very much a New York singer/songwriter with a background in theater. It echoes loudly through everything on this record. And for the better too.
In the first few seconds, I was worried that it was that froggy faux singing that is so disturbingly popular these days and I was going to have to hit eject but it soon became apparent that this was not the totality of Shaina. Not by a long shot. Sure at times, the voice grates a tiny bit but that passes and is overcome by the songs and exuberance of the stories and their delivery.
The theater background is all over everything. Shaina is very infused with song & dance as a form. Also in the joy that telling a story through that medium can bring to teller and listener. It isn’t the “spirit fingers” of Glee or Pitch Perfect type of musical theater but the real Off-but-looking-at-Broadway thing that is somehow uniquely New York.
The other thing I like is not really on the record but shows the style. Shaina doesn’t trade off her looks. She is an attractive girl but that is where she leaves it; a girl with an interesting face even. Except in the rather funny “We Don’t Need A Man” video on her site. I like “Lighten Up” from Old Hats better myself.
There are also definite shades of the straight singer/songwriter vibe of someone like an early Suzanne Vega here. I will even say I can hear parallels with Toni Childs “House Of Hope”, Sinead O’Connor’s “Lion And The Cobra” and Marianne Faithfull’s amazing “Broken English” in here. I’m sure others will compare to Amy Winehouse some too. If we are talking the early stuff then I won’t disagree at all.
Musically this is pretty broad and inclusive. It can swing (or even lurch) from one styling to another; Pop, Soul, Gospel, Jazz, Rap… they all make it in but it works.
There is also some social agenda stuff in here too but it is handled well enough that I don’t feel like I’m being hit over the head by sexless Socialists swinging brick filled bras. There is a political point being made but it is simply the story of that person and situation. Matter of fact I got to really welcome hearing “She Persisted” again.
This is a very cool record; well worth a listen or twelve.