There’s a track on Lisa Loeb’s new album, “No Fairy Tale,” that sounds like a segment for VH1’s “Behind the Music.”
The upbeat cut, “The ’90s,” finds Loeb singing, “Those were the ’90s/You can’t live in the past/Yeah, sure, I liked it then/But I don’t want to go back” and also, “We let our hair grow long/Got biker boots and wrote tough songs/So I’m the angel, she’s the demon/All the words have too much meaning.” She also sings of her directions to designers: Betsey Johnson to cut her dress shorter and John Fluevog to make her shoes higher.
It’s a breezy throwback to the decade when Loeb had her only substantial hit, the once-omnipresent “Stay (I Missed You)” from 1994.
Working with co-producer Chad Gilbert (of New Found Glory), Loeb resurrects the 1990s elsewhere on the release, including the plucky/chunky title track with its clean and infectious refrain. And in a twist, she covers two Tegan and Sara songs, “A Hot Minute” and “The Worst,” and fits their jangle into her style.
Unfortunately, much of the rest of “No Fairy Tale” demonstrates why Loeb hasn’t been much of a hitmaker for 18 years and why her attention now is on children’s albums and books and her own line of eyewear. Because despite Gilbert’s input, this release is dull.
Lyrically, Loeb is suitably interesting, exploring the melancholy of a broken relationship on “He Loved You So Much” (“He used to offer you his jacket/But you can’t take it anymore”) and the aching folly of adultery on “Married” (“How are you supposed to heal this broken man? ... You can’t be his yet”). However, the uninspired arrangements are generally bland, and sometimes strikingly flat, as on the listless (and aptly titled) “Weak Day” and the unbearably whiny “Ami, I’m Sorry.”
Essentially this release features an everyday-sounding vocalist singing about trite themes in a common, slightly anachronistic setting.
So unless one of these tracks is championed somehow (as when the film “Reality Bites” made a No. 1 hit of “Stay”), there’s likely no fairy tale ending to this chapter in Loeb’s career.
Rating: 2.5 stars (out of five)
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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