July 26, 2007

Minnie Driver Knows How To Be Good

Make way for the lady. Minnie Driver knows what she’s doing and on Seastories, her sophomore effort in music, she sounds even better than she did on her ambitious debut album.

On 2004’s Everything I’ve Got In My Pocket, the actress introduced her music-making chops, revealing a talent for writing credible songs that suited her smoky vocal approach. On Seastories, Driver sounds more secure, lyrically more straightforward, and musically more concentrated.

Much of the album is tinged with folk and alt.country flair, featuring acoustic accents and, on some songs, the efficient use of a pedal steel. Fittingly, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals join in on four tracks, the standout being “Beloved,” on which Adams offers some agile guitar accompaniment. Perhaps the most affecting song in this vein, though, is “How To Be Good”. On this countrified lament, Driver sounds plaintive and direct as she sings in apparent frustration, “I do everything I should/I still got to learn how to be good”.

Driver doesn’t have to learn to get much better with her music, though. On songs like the raw “Cold Dark River” and the raucous “King Without A Queen,” she channels her inner Lucinda Williams to strikingly visceral effect.

Almost an anomaly among the alt.country tracks is “Coming Back To Life,” a poignant, piano-laden song seemingly about a loved one’s struggle through depression. Recognizing that the worst may be over, Driver sings with compassion, “You’re sleeping hard alone but/Now I think the darkness is done”. Set to such gentle music, its considerate and encouraging lyrics make this the most stirring song on the album.

The rich simplicity of the music throughout Seastories compliments the candor of the lyrics. As well, Minnie Driver’s soothing and lovely voice gives this album a certain charm that makes each listen all the more enchanting.