Kay Hanley’s CHERRY MARMALADE

One of last year’s best rock records was the JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS soundtrack, which found Kay Hanley merrily knocking out punk-rock verses and power-pop choruses like the 17-year-old girl she isn’t. Her first solo album finds her sounding like the thirty-something siren she’s grown into since her days fronting Letters to Cleo, but the beautifully mature results still bop with infinitely more bounce than typical singer/songwriter fare. Hanley delivers the unbearably sexy “Princely Ghetto” with a breathy whisper: “My fingers on your faded blue jeans where my eyes had already been,” she sings, as a lap steel moans hauntingly behind her. Her voice sounds bold and bright on the dazzling pop/rock songs that fill out the rest of the album, and you’ve got to love a girl who uses “trampoline” as a verb. “Happy to Be Here,” a cute, happy little country tune, says it all: “I’m alive and breathing, and this will be my greatest year. I’m so happy to be here.” Any time, Kay. We’re happy to have you.

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