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CD REVIEW: Vanessa Boyd - unkept woman
By Steve Allat - 10/22/2004 - 11:57 PM EDT

Artist: Vanessa Boyd
Album: unkept woman
CD Review: Label: Independent
Tracks: 14
Released: 2004
For Fans Of: joni mitchell, (some) janis joplin, joan baez
Fav Tracks: hell yeah, unkept woman.

Vanessa Boyd is coming at you straight out of the bayous, from her homeland of Texas to her current digs in Tenessee. And that's actually a good indication of the type of sound you might 'expect' from a woman from those parts.

A classically trained vocalist, Vanessa uses her strength to her advantage as she strums her way through 14 songs, 12 being original compositions. While bordering on monotony, her vocal range does break out and prove itself often enough for the listener to know that this is a talented singer. She manages to sound both beyond her years and also very at home in her youth throughout the CD. I'd like to hear more emotion and to hear her challenge her range, though, as she's obviously capable.

All the songs are very confidently delivered, a skill that belies her age and shows how much she does like performing, which she does as often as she can in a variety of settings.

My main criticism of what I hear overall is a slight lack of any unique 'style' other than the obvious - the voice and the lyrics. The overall sound is a bit lacking, even with an impressive number of percussive instruments being played to accompany Vanessa & her guitar. When they are there, they are buried in the back and again lacking in any sort of 'punch' that could give any of the songs an air of differentiation. While Vanessa won't be mistaken for anyone else, I fear any song of the CD could be mistaken for any other at any time, which will lose the listener's interest. Vocal and musical hooks would take these songs and make them unique compositions, and give the CD more ups and downs for us to journey on.

As they stand, most of the songs here sound as if Vanessa just started playing, the percussion joined in, and then it stopped 4 minutes later. The songs could use some crafting to actually explore the lyrics to their full potential, thus delivering individual vocal AND sonic performances - each with something to remember.

There are two covers here - 'Old Dan Tucker', which I didn't know previously, but which I found to be nicely funky, and Led Zeppelin's 'Rock n' Roll' which sounded altogether too different for recognition as a cover tune. If I hadn't been expecting it, I may have thought it to be one of Vanessa's own songs, which is either a huge compliment or a major criticism, depending upon your viewpoint.

All in all, I must admit that while Vanessa's isn't a style of music I search out often, it did sound somewhat familiar to her genre to me and very strongly rooted, something which is a great foundation to build upon.

The good news is that Vanessa has a solid grasp on both her vocals and her thoughts and needs only what a lot of us indie musicians need - time to hone the craft as we live with our music.

Contact: Vanessa
Website: Vanessa Boyd

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