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Sunday, August 3, 2008

CD Review: Amy Petty - Mystery Keeps You

Amy Petty - Mystery Keeps You
2008, Red Pill

I am sitting here listening to Mystery Keeps You and I have to keep checking to make sure the writing credits don't read "McLachlan". It is very apparent that Amy Petty is a strong fan of Sarah McLachlan -- it oozes through her writing. Whether intentional or just the result of countless hours listening to McLachlan, Petty is something of a Sarah clone. That being said, she's a very capable songwriter, and there aren't many better musical mentors to have for a young female vocalist.

Mystery Keeps You has many of the elements that cause fans to flock to McLachlan's albums: Strong melodies, lush arrangements, ethereal harmonies, literate/poetic lyrics and an organic feel that few other artists can manage. Petty's voice is perhaps not as supple as McLachlan's, but in some ways is stronger, distinguishing the two clearly on at least this point. I know artists often hate to be compared so closely to another artist, but in this case the similarities are too pervasive to be ignored. That being said, Amy Petty is an incredibly talented songwriter. If she somehow absorbed McLachlan's sound through hours of listen, then she also picked up some of the songwriting talent as well, or had it to begin with.

The Prince's Daughter opens Mystery Keeps You and sounds sort of like McLachlan playing a John Mayer tune, if you can imagine it. The guitar-based song is stark and lyrically deep, and will suck you into the vibe that runs throughout Mystery Keeps You. Honey On The Skin is a sensuous tune with a guarded vulnerability that is intriguing. Find Me is my favorite track, and is perhaps the simplest arrangement on the album. This one is from the "less is more" school of songwriting, and works perfectly. July is a winner of a guitar ballad and deserves a few listens to make sure you get all of the nuances.

Mystery Keeps You is an intriguing debut for Amy Petty. It is very derivative, particularly if you're a Sarah McLachlan fan, yet the songwriting is so strong that this can be overlooked (mostly). Petty herself is an extremely capable vocalist, and as a songwriter has a strong sense of melody. I do hope that future releases see Ms. Petty differentiating herself from McLachlan somewhat, if only to put her own signature on her sound.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Amy Petty at Mystery Keeps You was just released in July, 2008, and will soon be available on iTunes, CDBaby, etc. For the time being you can order a copy by e-mailing Ms. Petty through her MySpace page. Check out her blog entry here .

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