In a press release promoting her full-length debut “The Only,” Heidi Feek humbly compares herself to Patsy Cline, Chris Isaak and Neko Case.
But she might best be characterized as Nashville’s answer to Lana Del Rey.
Her voice is rich and velvety, her delivery is old-school sultry - though the enunciation is off-kilter, whether it’s a natural trademark or an affected distinction. Meanwhile, the music of “The Only” settles into a noir-land between country and surf-rock, its atmosphere dense with sensuality and obsession.
“The Only” is all a put on, of course, but that doesn’t negate the allure.
In the resonating electricity of steamy opener “Like the Way,” the singer first strikes a nerve with, “I like the way your tongue licks your lips/When you’re about to get ready to give me a kiss.”
On “57 Bel Air,” she arches her lines to hypnotic effect as she compares her love to a car, “He’s got a body that was made to run … I know we’re going nowhere, but I don’t really care.” There are other metaphors – as when she declares, “Love’s just a pretty boy/It looks good, but it’s just going to toy” - but Feek is even better when she’s direct.
In the penetrating waltz of the title track, for example, she brokenheartedly pouts that, “You’re not the only boy to make me cry,” and her lust attack on the Latin-flavored “One Night With You” is simmering with wanton desire: “One night with you would feel so right/A dream come true till morning light.”
Still, Heidi Feek’s persona doesn’t seem fully realized, what with the quirky intonations in her voice, some unconvincing moments and occasional pedestrian lyrics. But the arrangements are superb, and she’s clearly got the goods.
So while Feek has a way to go to capture Del Rey’s mystique, this is an admirable attempt at witchcraft.
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of five)
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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