Nellie McKay is a singer-songwriter-pianist who can alternate very quickly between soft jazz and rapping satire. (One critic beautifully described her first album as "a combination of Doris Day and Eminem.") Pretty Little Head, McKay's sophomore album, is a two-disc collection that goes just about everywhere.

McKay offers 23 songs on Pretty Little Head, ranging from angry rap ("The Big One") to tender love songs ("I Will Be There") to straight silliness ("Pounce"). Alas, the results are uneven. It's admirable that McKay is willing to try so much, but there are as many hits as misses here. Her light voice and omnipresent piano make for a different sound than standard top 40 music, but there are as many misses as hits here. (Cameos by Cyndi Lauper and k.d. lang don't add much to the album either.)

Nellie McKay's first album, Come Away With Me, was much tighter and much better. If Pretty Little Head had been edited down to one album with the best songs, it may have been a much better album. Let's hope that McKay's next release focuses more on her best songs.

Overall grade: C+

Reviewed by James Lynch

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