Album Review

Gina Villalobos - Rock 'n' Roll Pony

Gina Villalobos - Rock N Roll Pony

Gina Villalobos' music at first seems so simple and straightforward that it almost doesn't fit anywhere in today's rigidly-compartmentalized music world. She offers a singer-songwriter sensibility but a five-piece band sound. The music is too hard for folk-rock and too soft for hard rock. There's an undercurrent of Americana in what she does, but only an undercurrent. It's straight-up rock, rooted but not roots music, with a twang and plenty of rough edges -- in the same ballpark as, say, the "Honky Tonk Woman"-era Stones but with a markedly different feel. It stands out because she's a superb singer with one of those "wet" voices that can be raspy or smooth, and that can go from sensuous purr to stray-cat yowl (and points between). All as she's singing nonlinear, non-narrative lyrics that string together images and catch-phrases along the lines of "I think I'll stand in the window just to stripe in the morning sun/I think I'll fly to November, count the shapes from high up above" (from "Why"). Her songs of melancholy and disillusionment, buoyed by a defiant streak, usually connect emotionally no matter how abstract they get. They also hold together because at bottom she has a genuine pop flair, and employs abundant lyric and musical hooks. This is intriguing stuff, full of heart and hard knocks.