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Morgan Grace: 'Valentine'

Morgan Grace: 'Valentine'


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Morgan Grace 300

Morgan Grace.

Brian Lee

Morgan Grace has been releasing solo albums since 2003, but she didn't catch her "break" until 2006, when her song "The Rules of Dating" won a songwriting award via American Idol Underground (now Artist Underground, a Web site geared toward getting exposure for independent artists). Grace submitted the song on a whim, and the track won her $10,000 and recording equipment, with which she put together a home recording studio. Valentine is Grace's first album produced with the spoils of her victory, and the disc finds the singer-songwriter showing flashes of gutsy Liz Phair-flair, coupled with the vocal talent of a jazz singer.

The album's first four tracks find Grace at her best. "Eyes in the Back of My Head" shows off Grace's beautiful, whispery vocals over a simple acoustic guitar, sounding like a bedroom diary reading. "Her Roses" addresses a suicide, and Grace's frank, deadpan delivery lends the song a chilling honesty. "Valentine" is a wonderfully mopey broken-heart song that would fit perfectly in a 1980s Molly Ringwald movie (see Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club). "Keep It Loose" mixes gritty punk chords and wah-wah guitars for a funky sound that lives up to its title.

Valentine marks Grace's first true solo album; she's worked previously with drummer Sam Henry and as a member of the girl group Kleveland. Henry chips in on one drum track, but otherwise, Grace played and recorded every instrument herself. Though the record drags a bit after its strong opening, as a debut the disc shows a great deal of promise.

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