When Diane Birch released her debut, Bible Belt
, in 2009, I felt a little guilty for liking it so much. It had a rootsy but polished 1970s vibe, presenting her as a folk girl trying to talk herself out of being a pop artist. Birch's follow-up, last fall's Speak a Little Louder
, throws a whole new light on the 31-year-old artist.
The new album's title track features driving electric guitars and 1980s-style mechanical drumbeats, as though Birch spent a little too much time watching Pat Benatar videos on YouTube. That Reagan-era hangover lingers over the rest of the album as Birch throws her powerful voice around, no longer the folkie but not quite the pop starlet. But with Birch's valley-deep, summer-rich vocals, that might not matter so much.
Diane Birch is at the Bottleneck this Saturday, March 8. Details here