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Nellie McKay, ‘Pretty Little Head’ (Hungry Mouse)

Late last year Columbia sent this New York alternative cabaret singer’s 16-track second album to some magazines (including this one) for review (read more), despite her intention to release it as a more sprawling 23-track disc. The label then dropped McKay over the dispute, but the full album has finally surfaced with quirkier and catchier results than the short version. More Ben Folds than Norah Jones, McKay’s refreshingly impulsive songwriting, arrangement, and piano skills run amok: “Swept Away” flaunts a fresh banjo solo, while “Mama and Me” kicks rapped verses that tellingly rhyme “embryo” and “Nintendo” with “Brecht, though.”

Now Hear This: Nellie McKay – “There You Are in Me” DOWNLOAD MP3

On‘s review of the abridged Pretty Little HeadNellie McKay to Columbia: ‘Get Away’Artist of the Day: Nellie McKay