Philadelphia's Christina Perri spills her guts on lovestrong., her debut record. It's clear that making the album took an emotional toll on the singer/songwriter, as these are bare songs that don't hide much. She sings with an unassuming energy, opening her heart for the listener and delivering the goods like it means something for a change.
Stylistically, I can't say that Perri offers much more than your run-of-the-mill indie popster. The arrangements are nice, pleasant diversions, but she's not taking many creative risks with respect to composition.
It's in the oft-brutal, always honest lyricism that lovestrong. becomes something unique. Perri's delivery is sometimes subtle and sometimes staggeringly dramatic, summoning the spirit of a bleeding, tortured soul to call upon her experiences of love, lessons and heartbreak.
The problem is that the angst is a bit overdone. Perri's writing is like scribbling on a teenager's Wall, which is doubtlessly apt but quite irritating after a few listens. She moans and carries on, suitably so, but she struggles to escape the demonic fog. Simply, what's she's good at is also what she can't let go of.
For some, angst is cruel bread and butter. Perri fits the bill, jumping straight in with "bluebird" and its lower-case mentions of broken hearts and so forth. The melody emerges gently and cruises well enough, with Perri singing of the collapse of a relationship.
Then there's "jar of hearts," the song that made waves after it was featured on So You Think You Can Dance. It's a dramatic piano ballad, one that's bolstered by low strings and Perri's confident. It's a little like an Avril Lavigne song, but Perri is truer to the necessities of the form.
In terms of favourites, "mine" is, well, mine. It's a rare upbeat moment, cruising on wings of indie guitar. Perri scales up and down, teasing with high drama and greedily lapping up notes of surf rock and funhouse mirrors.
As good as Perri can get with the melodies and the theatrics, it gets tiresome.
The self-absorbed world of lost love is, let's be honest, a very boring place if you're not going through it yourself. That said, lovestrong. may well be one of those records to slap on after you've had your heart chewed up, spit on, stomped on, and run over by a truck. And yes, there's a helluva market for that.