Review : Nellie McKay - Home Sweet Mobile Home
PopmattersNellie McKay championed the work of Doris Day on her last album, Normal as Blueberry Pie. Day’s reputation as a ditzy blonde virgin in a number of successful Hollywood films in the early ‘60s led many to forget her musical achievements during the previous two decades. McKay, who physically resembles Day and shares a passion for animal rights, revealed the depth and seriousness of Day’s musical talents by remaking the songs with imaginative arrangements and careful attention to detail. The album earned many best-of-the-year awards in 2009, including a place on the New York Times’ “Best Jazz Album” list.
One might have thought that McKay’s tribute to serious female musicians with a ditzy blonde image was over, but on the very first song of her new album Home Sweet Mobile Home, McKay refers to another lady whose reputation is sorely in need of reclaiming: Charo. Now reduced to guest appearances on television shows and cruise ship entertainment, the cuchi-cuchi girl was once an internationally recognizable star of stage and screen. Like Day, Charo is better known for her silly persona than her musicianship, but she studied classical guitar with Andres Segovia and was twice named “Best Flamenco Guitarist” by Guitar Player magazine.
McKay doesn’t say much about Charo on the song “Bruise”, but the younger artist just makes a subtle reference to the older performer and her smile. But it’s these kinds of knowing references that make McKay’s music so smart, subtle, and perceptive—plus she does it all with a smile and a wink....full text
SlantmagazineIf only she were brunette, twentysomething multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter/vegan Nellie McKay would be the unchallenged apex of my (living) celebrity crush list. She's clinging tenaciously to the upper rungs as it is, her status abetted by the fact that one's attraction toward her need not be experienced or expressed as prurience. Much like Cole Porter, her quirky turns of phrase and insidiously catchy jazz chords sketch a feisty, urban milieu oozing refined sexuality. But she also cleverly dampers her erotics with youthful indignation, crafting what has sounded, until now, like a new American Songbook rife with cheeky topical bite—old-school cabaret wit filtered through new-school feminist irony ("I Wanna Get Married," "Mother of Pearl"). She is, in other words, that rare, talented gal who can fiercely take up a cause while eschewing terminal sobriety; her on-stage jokes, even when intro-ing a ditty about animal torture-for-science ("Columbia Is Bleeding"), are goof-tastically sexy.
And while most prefer the seam-splitting diversity of her 2004 debut, Get Away from Me, or its even more fractured follow-up, Pretty Little Head, McKay tap-danced and ukulele'd her way into my modest fantasies with Obligatory Villagers—a prismatic comment on U.S. complacency with elbow room for Bob Dorough's angularly perfect drawling ("They say we're one big family/But I'm just duckin' tangerines and lookin' for my gun!"). It was a heady project practically begging for misinterpretation, but the matched conceptual and sonic density suggested an artist—a woman, really—refusing to untangle her humor-laden thoughts or time signature-flitting charts for anyone (or any man?). It was also the work of someone I could likely argue with until dawn about whether Paul or Carla was the better Bley, or spend long and lazy afternoons with, rewriting Gershwin ballads with PETA-approved lyrics ("I've got a crush on tofu…"). And when I'd glimpse the bottom of her cornucopia of confidence, I'd casually slip into conversation how much it bothered me that Sasha Frere-Jones never "got" her droll rhyme-busting....full text
UndertheradarmagCaustic-yet-cute singer/songwriter Nellie McKay returns September 28th with fifth full-length, Home Sweet Mobile Home. This is McKay’s first album of new material since 2007’s Obligatory Villagers. Last year, she released Normal as Bluberry Pie, a tribute to American icon, Doris Day.
The album was recorded in Los Angeles, New York, Jamaica, and the Pocono Mountains. Known for her genre hopping, the new album promises to be even more of a mix-tape than previous efforts. “I have no idea how this album happened," Says McKay via press release, “I guess I was looking for a sound to reflect our shrinking world and the bleed of culture crossing all kinds of borders." ...full text
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