Heather Nova South

When Heather Nova first appeared almost a decade ago, she was just another of those female singer-songwriters that got grouped in with the likes of Tori Amos, but despite building up an underground following that has kept her going back to the studio again and again, she’s still relatively unknown. Perhaps that could change with her first album for V2, the heavily produced South. Lyrically, she’s still playing the same games as always: there are the usual double entendres and coy sexuality that should have become less frequent with age, but it is still there and is still grating; she should maybe leave that kind of thing to Britney Spears. She also manages to massacre the jazz standard "Gloomy Sunday” with South’s unnecessary cover. Nova is "important” enough to attract some guest starts too, so Bryan Adams turns up to sing and play on "Like Lovers Do‚” although you’d hardly notice. Bernard Butler is here too, continuing his run of mediocrity with a songwriting collaboration that is far from stellar (although it is still one of the stronger songs), plus he plays guitar on another song. Fans of Nova’s earlier work might find that this newer, glossier incarnation has become a little too much to take. However, it could very well translate into the commercial breakthrough she’s always threatened to make and she could find herself in the same spotlight as Jewel, Fiona Apple and even Alanis Morissette. (V2)