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Mary Ann Douglas: Does Thinking Just Make It That Way?

Californian Mary Ann Douglas has taken the daring, though misguided, step of devoting her entire new CD, Does Thinking Just Make It That Way? (Magdalene MGDL 1003; 55:07), to her own material. Douglas, whose nondescript but pleasant voice evokes Patti Page and Stacey Kent, tries valiantly to put a fresh spin on such durable themes as love, loss, redemption and revenge, but ends up mired in bland imitation. “Harmed,” a gentle bossa nova meant to explore the emptiness of abandonment, can’t compare to Bacharach and David’s like-minded “Odds and Ends.” The title track, a quirky paean to metaphysics and quick-fix relationships, is a tangle of awkward metaphors. “Don’t You Give Up On Love” echoes the trumped up maturity of a million adolescent laments. “Love From Strangers” is a lackluster “Piano Man,” and “To a Lover and Friend” sounds like one of those faux cowboy tunes that Dean Martin grew so fond of in his declining years. There are, however, a couple of lovely roses among the thorns. “Quiet Night” expertly examines the middling comfort that darkness offers the lonely and downhearted, and “Everything Looks Better After Rain” offers a neat, new twist on the sentiments expressed in “Give Me the Simple Life.”

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