Saturday, October 2, 2010

Album Review: Katie Armiger - Confessions of a Nice Girl

This 19-year-old pop-country starlet has been releasing music since 2007, but has yet to have a single enter the Country Top 40.  Her third album Confessions of a Nice Girl may or may not cause a sudden spike in her chart record, but it does have an undeniable charm that makes it entertaining and darn near irresistible.

First, a warning:  Elderly ones may wish to turn down the hearing aids - This album is very loud.  The up-tempo tracks feature heavy drum beats and guitar riffs, while many of the mid-tempos culminate in sweeping string sections.  The album has a sound that seems to owe more to Miley Cyrus and Orianthi than to Reba McEntire and Martina McBride.  You might be able to get past that; you'd just want to listen to this one with the volume relatively low.  Since Katie clearly has talent, she could benefit from simpler arrangements that would more effectively allow her vocals to be the center of attention.

Confessions of a Nice Girl kicks off with a bang as the high-octane pop ditty "Best Song Ever" opens the set.  Up next is the album's first single, "Kiss Me Now," which keeps up the energy.  A few of the album's best moments come when Katie injects her own flair and personality into the songs.  You can almost hear her sassy smirk in her delivery of "Nice Girl" (though the song could do without the fake giggles at the beginning).

Katie demonstrates strong vocal abilities throughout the album, and clearly shows that she knows how to have fun, but she often shines brightest on her ballads.  On the single "Leaving Home," she displays what is arguably her finest vocal performance on the album as her crystalline voice rises from its lower register to a shimmering falsetto.  She also effectively channels the appropriate emotions on sad songs like "That's Why" (written with Rebecca Lynn Howard) and the self-penned "Cry Cry Cry."

Katie wrote or co-wrote all but four of the album's tracks.  Many of the songs are clearly sung from a teenager's perspective (Example:  "Nice Girl"), but there are moments when Katie displays a notable degree of maturity.  Some of the strongest lyrics in the albums are found in songs such as "That's Why," "Scream," and "Cry Cry Cry," all of which are different portrayals of post-breakup emotions.  Though Katie shows signs of maturing in her perspective, she never crosses the line of what is age-appropriate for her to sing.  These Confessions could be seen as a portrait of an artist in transition - one who is soon to leave the high school hallways to find her place in the world.

Katie's set of Confessions includes a good mix of sorrowful ballads interspersed with plenty of fun and sprightly slices of pop-country, ripe with catchy hooks and singalong melodies.  It may not be an instant classic, but it is a thoroughly entertaining effort that is full of heart, and brimming with spunk and personality.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)

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