We wish she hadn’t traded in her guitar for a piano, but that’s about the only criticism we can level at Kate Voegele’s second album.
Yes, it’s music for teenage girls. This should not be a shock to you. What may come as a surprise is how much you actually like these songs.
Voegele, who grew up in Bay Village, has matured as a musician since her 2007 debut. The most obvious change is her transition to more piano-based songs. It gives this album a more restrained feel, but since Voegele is more Patti Griffin than Katy Perry, it works for her. Actually, it more than works. Still, once she hits the rocking, full-throttle end of “Manhattan From the Sky,” you’re reminded why you wish there was more rock to go around.
The single-syllable act known simply as Zach (aka Brecksville’s Zach Friedhof) often takes the stage by himself. But this soulful set of 10 songs offers enough lush harmonies and whirring retro keyboards to make you wonder why he’d ever want to go it alone.
Zach’s sound is anchored by excellent vocals that float through his carefully built, uplifting songs. But what’s most apparent here upon first listen is the old-school warmth of the recording.
It’s not long before you notice flashes of Zach’s influences, be it in the bridge of “Wherever You Are,” which evokes Jethro Tull, or the funky, echo-laden chorus of “Apple Pie” that would seem equally at home on a Lenny Kravitz album. The call-for-change anthem “What Are You Afraid Of,” an odd mishmash of Obama-era optimism and ’60s idealism, is the album’s lone stumble. But overall, Zach shines.
Pale Hollow describes its sound as a mix of Americana, soul and folk, but there is a decidedly Brit-pop bent to this 14-song collection.
Sure, the opener “Don’t It Leave You Lonely” leans on a rootsy harmonica and a jangly electric guitar line, but singer Mike Allen’s raspy delivery conjures introspective gray skies more than carefree blue ones.
And Pale Hollow’s subsequent headlong dive into the wonderfully sonic “Sugarcane” — one of the best songs on the album — instantly reminds you of the arena-size sound of British rock act Oasis. Yet the high point of the disc is the confidently low-key “Roll the Stone Away,” which offers a nice balance of Pale Hollow’s disparate ingredients.