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Real Emotional Girl

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Album Review

Patricia O'Callaghan's Real Emotional Girl was her first album distributed in the U.S. and is also her major-label debut. This O'Callaghan album reduces the number of Kurt Weill tunes to just three, increases the Leonard Cohen quotient to five, and includes other songs from slightly more mainstream writers, such as Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan. Those who were introduced to O'Callaghan with Slow Fox may be critical of the inclusion of such songs as Eddie Vedder's "Better Man" or even Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." But her interpretations are often inspired. (In fact, can listeners be so hopeful as to expect that O'Callaghan's next record will be exclusively Cohen material?) Some expecting jazzy vocals may be disappointed; those familiar with her operatic soprano voice should be impressed again. For the pop music fan, covering lesser-known (but highly engaging) material may play better on the ears. One could argue that Real Emotional Girl is too pop and mainstream. Others would say that her take on those pop hits is not of interest to the early 20th century pop expert. The risk this collection takes may be considered a weakness by some. But it is hard to criticize a singer who covers Randy Newman as well as Cohen. (Real Emotional Girl repeats five songs from Slow Fox.) Standout tracks include "Je Rêve de Toi," "I'm Your Man," and "Real Emotional Girl." Real Emotional Girl, because of its diverse song selection, should be where a pop listener starts. But fans of Kurt Weill would be wise to check out this album too.

Real Emotional Girl, Patricia O'Callaghan
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