Marcy Baruch

Clearly (Big N' Brash)

Red-haired and musically ambidextrous, Marcy Baruch has pole-vaulted into the inner sanctum of Denver-area singer-songwriters. Her debut recording, Clearly, suggests she's paid the dues to be there.

It's easy to imagine much of the material on Clearly co-opted by aspiring Faiths and Shanias, artists who toil in the gray stylistic divide between sugarcoated country and plain old power pop. But Baruch does just fine when she tackles the stuff herself. Though she sometimes mans acoustic guitar, piano and keyboards, she is most visible as a vocalist, backed here by the five-piece Elephant Band.

Some of the sonic accoutrements Baruch chooses to adorn her songs have a slightly dated feel; wah-wahing guitars and keyboard solos add unnecessary "flair" to otherwise solid and truly catchy material. And at times her songwriting feels a little too familiar, recalling everyone from Kim Carnes to Stevie Nicks. Baruch's individuality is most evocatively suggested by the spindly "Simple Is Enough," with its pitch-perfect harmonies and understated melody, and by "Crazy," a rollicking up-tempo dare of a number that suggests she knows how to work it as well as how to wail.

 
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