An arresting album from Los Angeles songstress, Grey De Lisle, offers a cycle of story songs about women in love and all its dangers. Allison Moorer's "The Hardest Part" looms large as a model, and if Moorer's "cheated-on" songs still resonate in the listener's memory, perhaps this is a response album of sorts - the same sorry stories, told defiantly and honestly by the "other woman."
The disc opens on a slow, soulful groove with De Lisle's spoken-word accusation to the lover who scorned her: "Long ago, you promised you would leave her..." ("Borrowed and Blue"). Tales of betrayal, passion and ill-fated choices unfold, until De Lisle challenges in the closing salvo, "Ferris Wheels and Freakshows," "Go on, say I'm easy / Make the rumors all come true."
It's an emotionally epic, dramatic journey, and De Lisle has the goods to keep her audience enthralled all along the way. It's by no means an easy-listening travel; De Lisle does, at times, pay vocal homage to the "strong women of country," suggested by her cover art - which stylishly recalls the classic '70s vinyl issues of Bobbie Gentry or Loretta Lynn - but Bradley Barn-style torch and twang are only part of her dazzling armory. There's smoldering salsa, R & B and soul diva belters, trip-folk and new-wave pop and even some wicked blaxploitation-style moves. De Lisle's voice is charged through with such surefire conviction to each song, however, that she carries it off, holding her head every bit as high and proud as the indefatigible bad girls whom she's made good in her songs.