Paula Kelley The Trouble with Success or How You Fit Into the World

Paula Kelley’s name will be familiar to anyone who remembers the Drop Nineteens back in the ’90s, but she also spent time in both Hot Rod and Boy Wonder before finally settling on a solo career. Her debut Nothing/Everything was notable for her ability to shift effortlessly between musical styles although that lack of focus also weakened the album. There’s no such problem on The Trouble with Success or How You Fit Into the World because she has cast herself as a chanteuse fronting the 38-piece PK Orchestra and singing pop songs that even Burt Bacharach would be proud of. That doesn’t mean that it sounds dated though, because it is reminiscent of the earlier days of the Cardigans, with a touch of Baby, the Stars Shine Bright-era Everything but the Girl. The Trouble with Success is an old-fashioned record that relies on nothing more cunning than well-written songs to get its point across. The string and horn arrangements (the latter being done by Eric Matthews) dominate the proceedings, but Kelley’s helium voice comes across as being a little too weak to carry some of the songs. But repeated listens reveal a lot more subtlety and it doesn’t turn out to be the issue it initially appears, showing that Kelley really does know what she’s doing. (Kimchee)