Adrianne

Down to This (Kufala)

There's generally more than a hint of pretension linked to artists who choose to be known by a single moniker. Madonna, Prince, Nelly, LudacrisLiberace? Could be there's more invested in branding than in craft with some folks.

So why should we believe that someone who refers to herself simply as Adrianne would be any different? For starters, Adrianne makes music fueled not by glitz and glamour but by honesty and emotion. A Miami homegirl who relocated to L.A., she was raised in an Hispanic neighborhood and exposed to a mix of Latin rhythms, grunge, hip-hop, and R&B. Still, it was the influences of early idols like the Indigo Girls, Melissa Etheridge, and Jonatha Brooke that swayed Adrianne's inward gaze and encouraged her candid and confessional songwriting style.

That dogged perspective is well-expressed on the live Down to This, an aptly dubbed fourth album of angst-strewn anthems and melancholic musings. With only acoustic guitar and the barest backup, Adrianne wrenches a compelling performance from this intimate embrace. Rising from literally a hush to a holler, "Shout It Out," "Symmetry," "Sweet Mistake," and "10,000 Stones" evoke a heightened sense of passion and purpose.

If there's one drawback, it's that the material's frequently mired in the same self-pity and bittersweet barbs that Alanis, Tori, Fiona, and others of that sardonic sisterhood dish out with annoying frequency. Fortunately, there's a reprieve; set closer "Shooting Set" weaves snippets of "With or Without You," "Let It Be," "No Woman, No Cry," "I Think We're Alone Now," and even Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" into a surprisingly seamless, unexpectedly optimistic medley. Adrianne's mindset may be best summarized in thoughts she offers early on: "Words don't sound sincere/Unless you shout it out." On Down to This, even her faintest whispers speak volumes.

 
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