Kirsten Jones Drive-In Movie

This long, tall Virginian might be a diamond in the rough if she hadn’t already worked off some tarnish with her Toronto debut in an all-girl band called Trophy Boy. Kirsten, you see, fancies herself as a cross between Belinda Carlisle and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones character. Yet she has weaned herself on a steady diet of sensitive singer-songwriters who have, subconsciously, added real substance to her dreams of pop confectionery. You can hear her syrupy, sweet side on tracks like "I Found You” and the Bangles-esque "Back to the Playground.” But the beauty of her most outstanding trait comes through loud and clear on softer, more introspective compositions like the achingly beautiful "Shadows” and the more melancholic "Need You,” which have more in common with influences like Maria McKee and Lucinda Williams than Carlisle. The record is sparsely produced, which only helps to highlight the qualities of her smooth-as-buckwheat-honey vocals. Not all songs jump off the page, but her hurtin’ potential is painfully obvious on songs like "You Don’t Feel,” which offers that fateful hint of country that shines through in her live performances. A bona fide comparison to Emmylou Harris is not out of order, given Kirsten’s crystalline voice and wistful, reflective songwriting approach as evidenced in her seven original tunes. "Bittersweet Grand Canyon” remains a case in point. Likewise, "Don’t Mind Me” previews a talent about to break, once she finds her footing. Drive-In Movie demands an immediate sequel. (Lost Highway)