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Mary Ann Douglas: Unfinished Business

Six years after her disappointing Does Thinking Just Make It That Way?, her previous collection of original compositions, San Diegan Mary Ann Douglas remains underwhelming. There’s no denying that Douglas’ voice is appealing, yet it is indistinctive, rather like a less vibrant, less engaging Stacey Kent. And, though she deserves applause for prolificacy (this latest disc includes no fewer than 18 self-penned tunes, all related to love lost or unrequited), her lyrics are still largely pedestrian, too often trading in structural awkwardness, tired clichés and empty platitudes.

But, as on every Douglas disc, there are exceptions. The heartfelt neediness of “Don’t Know How” suggests a more contemplative, less fervent “It Must Be Him,” and “When Will I Get Over You?” (which owes more than a passing melodic debt to “Makin’ Whoopee”) dresses up its heartache with a soupcon of saucy pep. But the real kudos must be reserved for guitarist Mundell Lowe, whose arrangements are as thoughtful as they are lovely, and John Rekevics, for consistently laudable support on sax and flute.

Originally Published