Lisa Donnelly – We Had a Thing (2009, BT Media)
purchase this album (Amazon)

Open your heart and close your legs
They only want what makes ’em beg
Get hurt and do it again — and laugh at it all

Lisa Donnelly’s We Had a Thing opens with “Laugh,” a perky piano-led pop song with a catchy melody and the sage advice laid out in the lines above, but she isn’t just another Sara Bareilles or Colbie Caillat; as this 10-track effort makes clear, she’s just as comfortable vamping it up, as she does in the funky, fingersnap-laden dance number “Little Devil,” or spinning gauzy webs of atmospheric sound, as on the moody ballad “Julian.”

In the not-too-distant past, Donnelly would have been classified simply as a singer/songwriter, but in these days of microformats and crusted-over lines in the artistic sand, Thing feels like a defiant work of eclecticism. She’s already been accused of “hopscotching,” which is valid, I suppose, but when you’re this good at writing indelibly catchy melodies, the ability to swerve from irresistibly catchy uptempo pop (“Naturally” [download]) to moody, vaguely Fleetwood Mac-ish balladry (“Better”) — and then head into Emmylou Harris territory (“Stuck in a Rut”) — is an asset, not a liability.

Singer/songwriters aren’t exactly in short supply these days, and even keeping track of the ones talented enough to make it is a full-time task — but if she can navigate her way through a crowded marketplace, Lisa Donnelly has the voice, and the material, to carve out a niche among fans of catchy, smartly written pop music. (It also doesn’t hurt that she’s smoking hot, but hey — every artist needs some kind of image “hook” these days, right?) In a fair and just world, Donnelly would reach Katy Perry-sized success before the year is out. (Also, Perry herself would be eaten by bears on live television. But the world isn’t fair.)

About the Author

Jeff Giles

Jeff Giles is the founder and editor-in-chief of Popdose and Dadnabbit, as well as an entertainment writer whose work can be seen at Rotten Tomatoes and a number of other sites. Hey, why not follow him at Twitter while you're at it?

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