ALL DRESSED UP (Sugar Shack)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
I once had an interview with Rita turned down because her honest confessions of a life affected by violence and addiction was regarded by Steve Sutherland as hardly befitting the sweet fragrant pages of Melody Maker! More than ten years on I find myself listening to only her third album, and wondering why she does what she does.
It’s like some harmless light post-grunge to begin with, as the songs have a certain energy, but mainly urgency, because vocals are naturally given priority, and it can’t be too noisy or she’ll become displaced, so the drums have to play an interesting role in creating variety, because the guitar can at best become niggling, to add tension. Rita herself could be seen as a sedated Courtney or sedate PJ Harvey, but I’ll get more realistic later.
The tone of Lynch’s voice and her delivery keeps you gripped, although it is all fairly repetitive initially. Eventually ‘I’ll Never Let You Go’ builds really well, and also falls away effectively. ‘Far Away’ is extra plaintive, as the album goes through a mid-stage dip, bringing a nice sense of relief, then rebuilds with a brisker approach for ‘Solomon Lady’ with guitar allowed to ring out stronger, as Rita becomes slicker with the rhymes. We see the sound veer towards more scrawny punk distortion in ‘Jesus Converts’, ‘Over You’ is almost playful while maintaining intensity, and only ‘Cry In The Night’ is actually forgettable.
It’s not harrowing, so you can approach it easily, as it approaches you, with almost a rude haste to share and inform, but such is the constant vocal activity that you feel pinned back, almost subjected to it. Occasionally emotive, and hardly uplifting, this is mainly anxious fare, which contains not one memorable melody, until the final track. Rita begins singing ‘Beautiful Eyes’ and I remember it instantly, because this is a remarkable song, now coming on as an impassioned light rock gem.
The weird thing is that I have never encountered someone who takes the Lynch approach, whereby a song has barely begun and she’s churning out lyrics, then keeps on going until it ends, as though filling a sausage. Words, words, words are everywhere, and Rita – which you may be interested to learn - is like a more tuneful Patti Smith, but some of that rawness would have helped this record immensely.
ALL DRESSED UP