Nellie Mckay Get Away From Me

The hype on Nellie McKay is that she can do it all. The multitalented NYC-bred 19-year-old apparently has a vast musical palette, dabbling in various musical styles on her debut record (a double no less), from ’50s-era torch singer to street-wise hip-hop MC. While it’s obvious that she is a gifted jazz pianist and promising songwriter, Get Away From Me actually suffers from the jarring effect of McKay’s decision to cram her varied musical tastes on to one album. It’s one thing to have sultry jazz numbers precede stompy, rap songs but McKay ups the ante with her profane lyrics and mellow-to-caustic singing style. A case in point occurs on "Won’t U Please B Nice” where, accompanied by a traditional jazz shuffle, a cutesy McKay puts her Audrey Hepburn on only to purr about slitting a lover’s throat and closing the song by warning, "Give me head or you’ll be dead.” This is followed by the cranky "Inner Peace,” a violent rant that McKay speak-raps over a dramatic piano-led salsa rhythm that doesn’t quite work. Though many of her songs contain endearing arrangements and thoughtful, empowering lyrics, too often McKay succumbs to Eminem-style shock-pop tactics that seem forced or unnecessary. This tendency coupled with the breadth of Get Away From Me makes it a difficult listen from an obviously talented and ambitious young singer-songwriter. (Columbia)