Don Henley’s ‘The Boys of Summer’ is one of the most enduring songs of the 80s. There’s something in the narrative that seems to resonate with so many people. Maybe it’s the thoughts of summers past; maybe it conjures memories of lost friendships. Whatever it is, so many people love it and over the years it’s been covered in a variety of styles.
A few years ago, I picked up Bree Sharp’s debut album ‘A Cheap And Evil Girl’ on a whim. I’d not heard a note of it, but it was dirt cheap and allegedly both Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello had said they were fans, so I figured I ought to hear it. As it turned out, the album was good, alternative-rock singer-songwriter stuff. Bree’s voice may have been everyone’s cup of tea, being rather edgy…almost exactly like Jepp (about whom you’ll find next to nothing on the net – if anybody can help, send us an email!), but generally it was a solid debut.
This, her sophomore effort, (minus the title for its Japanese release) kind of takes up the baton where ‘Cheap…’ left off. There’s very little difference in the tone and as before, there are obvious stand out cuts, some solid moments and a couple of absolute clunkers. Of songs I’d rather forget, the cover of Don Henley’s ‘Boys Of Summer’ is misjudged and doesn’t really suit Bree’s vocal style at all. A definite skipper… ‘Sleep Forever’ also grates a little, as the hooks aren’t that obvious and the drum pattern isn’t so inspiring. Since that closes the album, it’s easy enough to turn off the CD early!‘Lazy Afternoon’ is very chorus driven and the backing vocals prepare the listener for what you think is going to be a killer chorus and then somehow, it falls a little flat. It’s not unpleasant, but it feels like filler.
With the album’s weak tracks out of the way, what of the rest? ‘Everything Feels Wrong’ has a big chorus though, so it follows ‘Lazy Afternoon’ very well. Like a fuzzy-rock Sheryl Crow, complete with between-verse ‘doo doo doo’ moments, this was very much meant for radio play. It’s the best track here, hands down. ‘Dirty Magazine’ is this album’s oddity. Musically, it’s at odds with the pop-rock style – it’s got a twangy rock ‘n’ roll edge, although it’s not at all rock ‘n’ roll. It has an old fashioned country twang too, but there’s no way you’d ever call it country…and the lyrics may hint at the edgier side of Bree’s debut, but somehow, it doesn’t quite work. ‘Morning In A Bar’ is gentler all round, more atmospheric and sounds like the album’s hangover cure – probably quite deliberately – although as penultimate track, it feels misplaced, as it’s more of a closing statement.
‘Galaxy Song’ – nursery rhyme la-la’s aside – represents the kind of thing Bree is best at. It’s mid paced, semi-acoustic and hints at KT Tunstall, although tougher sounding and recorded a few years before KT hit the big time. ‘The Last Of Me’ is also a high point – a song which takes typical post-break up themes and looks for strength, presents the listener with more semi-acoustic goodness. On the strength of this track alone, I’d like to know whether Bree has had much radio play in the US, aside from her debut’s ode to wanting David Duchovny. It’d be a shame if not, since she’s clearly written better, less throwaway songs.
Overall, ‘More B.S.’ is actually pretty decent. Maybe I only think of it as being not quite as good as the debut purely because ‘The Boys Of Summer’ makes me cringe. …And there’s nothing quite as edgy here as ‘Gutter Mouth’ or ‘Cheap And Evil Girl’. But then, as much as I like it, Bree’s debut was never perfect.