A rock energy violinist who has worked with the likes of Robyn Hitchcock, Sarah McLachlan and R.E.M., Deni Bonet scores high on the pop quirk meter with her release, It’s All Good (M-R 2 Records). A witty collection of single gal plaints and girl power partying, the Richard Barone-produced disc is sporadic but overall engaging. When she’s cooking – as on the ruefully rocking bid for attention “One in a Million” – the NYC fiddler proves as musically appealing as Kate and Cindy singing the praises of 52 girls. In lesser tracks like “Cynical Girl,” you find yourself wishing that ex-Bongo Barone had pushed her back into the studio for five or six more takes to punch things up.
As a singer, Bonet has a plain timbre that sometimes evokes Carole King (“Million”); at other times, it brings to mind Debbie Harry (“Wait and See”). As a lyricist, her droll takes on such bachelorette hazards as commitment-phobic guys and safety dates provoke smiles and knowing nods. And when she slows the Beatles’ “Please Please Me” down to a middle European lament, the results prove both funny and sexy.
Musically, It’s All Good slips all over the pop rock spectrum, with forays into Tin Pan Alley (a strumming uke take on the Benny Goodman chestnut “Glory of Love”) plus an instrumental rag. To this listener’s ears, the strongest tracks turn out to be the most power poppy: the twelve-string sweetened “Safety Date” or album opener “Girl Lover,” which soars thanks to Bonet’s bluesy electric fiddling. No doubt due to her extensive session work, some alt-y guest stars (Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, John Wesley Harding) pop up on the disc, the most amusing being Fred Schneider (The B-52s), who lends his trademark oddball yelps to “Girl Party,” which describes our heroine inviting “half the world” to a bash that ends with all involved drunk texting their boyfriends.
“I’m one in a million girls,” Bonet sings to an indifferent guy over a crooning male chorus. “What is there not to like?” Turns out there’s plenty to like in It’s All Good, which if it isn’t all good turns out to be very fine indeed.