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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Let Go CD Cover
Image © Arista Records 2002  

In the wake of Michelle Branch comes another teenage "rock chick" Avril Lavigne. This 17-year old was discovered in Canada and brought to New York City to develop her song-writing with a variety of collaborators, including The Matrix, a production team involving talented Lauren Christy. Her album is entitledLet Go (Arista (USA) 07822-14740-2, 2002) and it has been a big success in the USA, and I have to say that despite major label influence and a considerable amount of outside assistance, there is no doubt that she is a major talent.

This really is pop-rock of the highest order. Though there is nothing particularly new or innovative here, it is almost amazing how someone so youthful could possibly have written such a consistent and tuneful album. Avril's image is somewhat grungy - a tomboy with more than a hit of femininity - though suggestions of sexuality have wisely been repressed and her lyrics reflect this detailing relatively straightforward teen angst issues, albeit with a sense of humour. Her voice, too, is interesting, youthful yet powerful, and bodes well for live performance.

However, it is the composition and execution of the songs that is so impressive. She has built a core of impressive young musicians around her, and despite the many other collaborators, there is a real feeling of continuity throughout the album. "Losing Grip" is very much a statement of intent for the whole CD - a brooding Alanis Morrisette-style verse leads into a crushing, guitar driven chorus (though the ultra-trendy turntable-scratching is a little superfluous), while the splendid US hit single "Complicated" returns the album to pop territory.

"Sk8er Boi", meanwhile is a wonderful post-punk rock anthem, contrasting interestingly with the next song, the violin-dominated ballad "I'm with you." "Mobile" continues the pop-rock theme, with a quirky verse giving way to another terrific chorus. "Unwanted" is rather more dramatic, the brooding acoustic guitar of the verse building tension before the metallic release of the chorus.

"Tomorrow" is another sweet ballad, while the lyrically strong "Anything But Ordinary" chugs along pleasantly and has another excellent chorus, as do "Things I'll never say" and "My World." "Nobody's Fool" is another obvious single, and features Avril's white rap leading to a splendid sung chorus. The album finishes on two slower songs "Too Much to Ask" and "Naked".

To borrow the Sum 41 album title, this is very much "All killer, no filler", great song following great song, to the extent that even the album's weaker pieces would stand out as classics on lesser artist's albums. Wildly entertaining and not without passion, this is a remarkable debut from a considerable talent.--Stephen Lambe

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album fromamazon.com here.Recommended to readers by female vocals fans in the United States and England, Avril Lavigne's new album Let Go is a very nice listen!

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