High School Starlet Hits the NYC Scene

[rating:7/10]

Gina Morresi is a friend of mine. I’ll make no attempts at disguising that I’m reviewing an album by one of my high school buddies. To be fair, I’ve only spoke to Gina a few times since that first Summer I was in college, but I’ve always considered Gina good people. Now, with my bias all laid out… I will promise you, my readers, that I am making every effort to set this bias aside.

Besides what I thought of Gina personally, I always was impressed by her talent. Gina was always cast as the lead in our school musicals… her vocals and her acting were always a highlight of the productions at our suburban North Jersey high school. After losing touch outside of an occasional Facebook note, I found out recently that Gina has been putting her talents into new and different avenues. After catching up with her, she sent me her latest endeavor entitled Secret Diaries of the Virgin Whore, an album she recorded in 2009 and performs in NYC clubs with her band, Gina Morresi and the Bella Coola Sound.

The album opens with an upbeat pop rock track called “No Plans” that rocks like what Sheryl Crow would sound like if she didn’t suck. The opener sets the pace, setting the stage for an album of contemplative pop rock that can be a bit brash at times, fun at others, and most often introspective. The tone varies from upbeat tracks like the opener to slower ones like “Three Little Words” or the closing track. There are some elements of classic singer-songwriters and an evident country influence as the albums progresses, culminating in a very radio friendly pop sound that isn’t afraid to be catchy. Whether the song is a rocker or a ballad, what shines through in each one is Gina’s vocals. It is obvious that the songs were written specifically for Gina’s vocals.

The music is quite simple. Simple, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. Simplicity in songwriting, especially from the musical standpoint, allows vocals and lyrics to be the focal point. Thus, what the music lacks in intricacies, it makes up for in painting a perfect backdrop. What is also evident about the music is how well it is produced. In fact, for a self-released album, the production value is top notch. Unafraid of how the NoHo hipster crowd may dismiss Secret Diaries of the Virgin Whore, Gina and the band fully embrace their pop sensibilities. There is nothing here to pick apart, which usually means that there is a mass appeal, in this case it’s just waiting to be found.

Overall, it’s fair to say that I always figured Gina would be on stage somewhere. This isn’t exactly the stage I expected, but it surely suits her. Intelligent lyrics about love and life sung with sweetness and sincerity highlighted by a well-constructed backdrop of pop music is what Secret Diaries of the Virgin Whore is all about. While this isn’t the style I’d usually go out of my way to check out, I’m glad Gina sent this CD my way. Her talent oozes out of every note. Check it out for yourself, especially if you’ve ever wondered what Sheryl Crow might sound like if she didn’t suck.

~ by thepaintedman on March 16, 2010.

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