The In Between
The In Between kicks off with "Like a Flower," a jazzy groove augmented with restrained electric-blues stings, over which local songwriter Brooke Annibale's voice is all moody come-on and worldly-wise regret. Or is it? As the album plays, you start to notice the preponderance of titles like "Grace," "Confess," "Real Hope" and "Cry Out" ... and that this collection of songs has one foot in a church pew and the other in a Starbucks.
Or so I must assume from such lyrics as "thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord / now I know the truth 'cause you're shining in the dark."
But if even the Devil can quote scripture (a trick picked up by his drinkin' buddies the Stones, and plenty of other great songwriters), I don't see any reason why a 20-year-old from Moon Township shouldn't release an album of largely devotional music. But it does make it tough to critique without seeming like you're casting aspersions on the musician's piety.
So I will say that Brooke Annibale has a very pleasant voice, capable of husky intimacy and soulful-folkie runs and modulations. And unlike a lot of this type of fare, The In Between is actually tastefully arranged and recorded by producer Jay Dudt at Audible Images Recording Studios. Touches of blues, jazz, folk, a little Ani DiFranco funk ("Whistle") and a little Tracy Chapman-rootsy feel ("The Radio Song") are ably supplied by slick local studio musicians.
The album remains at about the same moderate clip and moderate intensity throughout, which is to say, squarely in the middle of middle-of-the-road adult singer-songwriter pop. As Annibale is majoring in music business at Belmont University, in Nashville, perhaps she knows her market better than I do. But I do wonder what would happen if a little raw emotion were allowed to pop through the refined sheen from time to time ... or if it were even encouraged. If nothing else, it would probably make for a more compelling confession.