Born in Queens, New York, but based in Manchester for many years now, Glass Half...? is the debut album from an artist whose adept versatility has seen her work range from performing in Broadway musicals to providing voiceovers for radio programmes and playstation games. Risa returns to her first love of music, ably assisted by producer Nigel Stonier, who manages to tame Risa's exuberant vocal performance to capture a sassy singer who delivers spirit in abundance. Sounding thoroughly fresh, Glass Half...? depicts influences of the soulful Motown sound, traces of psychedelic folk-rock, and occasional nods towards show-business pizazz. Predominately, it's a zesty guitar-led affair though, that manages to be both uplifting and laid-back.
"That I Want You" provides an opportunity to witness the rich detail in Risa's voice with a seductive, jazz-imbued number that would sound right at home being sung by the sultry stage chanteuse of a Broadway musical. The jazz nuances continue on "Jazz Lullaby" with vocal eccentricities that recall a late 1970s Joni Mitchell.
The quirkiness of "The Grail" provides particular intrigue, with Risa's voice, higher pitched than elsewhere, sounding particularly bewitching, and entwining beautifully with the graceful flute of Laura Manship, evoking the winsome ghosts of folk-tale surrealism. "Roses" is another balladic moment that provides a sweeping, classy close to the album.
The more mainstream, attitude-laden numbers such as "Shooting Stars" or "Second Chances" are most likely to provide the memorable hooks to attract radio attention, and also appeal to a broader audience, providing plenty of catchy, sing-along moments. However, it's ultimately the breadth of appeal, and in particular the ability to combine a tenacious verve with an assuring compassion that means Glass Half...? is destined to be greeted fondly by those it touches.
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