Big Town

From the fiery a cappella intro to this debut album, Cleveland proves herself a vocal force to be reckoned with — a gritty, full-throated singer whose delivery clearly owes much to gospel and blues influences. Unfortunately, she tends to write overly melodramatic numbers in the time-honored tradition of the tough broad with a heart. Not that Cleveland doesn’t know her way around a rock hook: ”Big Town” transcends lyrics like ”I gave a few years to fantasy/And a few more to drugs and drinkin”’ with an infectious, guitar-driven refrain, and the subdued verses of ”Angel” build to a bright, soaring chorus. Still, Cleveland’s relentless soul searching grows tiresome. By the time the last song finally grinds to a halt, Big Town has proven that even the most gifted rookies often swing too hard their first time at bat. C+

Big Town
  • Music