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Nellie McKay is all over the place — wonderfully so. Whether she's delivering social commentary while strumming a ukulele in "Adios," exorcising the spirit of a devilish former lover over a festive bed of New Orleans jazz in "Dispossessed" or setting vegetarian activism to "Unknown Reggae," this mercurial New York singer-songwriter brings both ample wit and equally generous melodies. Partially recorded in Jamaica, McKay's fifth album fortifies her rhythms with reggae syncopations and naturalizes her sound with a live-in-the-studio ebullience that smartly showcases her thespian chops. A sweet, female version of Randy Newman who hearkens back to pre-rock cabaret days without getting the slightest bit nostalgic, McKay is the sophisticated minstrel your granddaddy thinks they stopped making years ago.
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