"People come and people go and things change," sings Molly Johnson.
She's as good as her words.
The Toronto singer-songwriter reinvented herself as a jazz vocalist a few years back.
And her third solo release proves it was a change for the better.
This dozen-track set captures the Billie Holidayish vocalist in a fittingly playful and wonderfully elastic mood, mixing it up with a tight little combo accented with horns.
Molly does exactly as her album title, "Messin' Around", suggests--she messes around with her genre. It is important to note, however, that messing around is very different from messing up, and the melodic liberties she has taken are not mistakes.
With a voice similar to Billie Holiday, this Canadian blues/jazz extraordinaire takes her audience back to an era when music was a little simpler, bands played from the soul and vocalists sang--actually sang. Johnson delivers her vocals with an intimacy and freeness that establishes her as an artist who sings solely for herself, not for fame, fortune or narcissism.
A veteran of her field, her lyrics also reflect a maturity gained only through time and experience. Delivered in a light-hearted and unpretentious tone, Johnson's insights leave her listeners pondering the finer things in life.
Johnson has laugh lines, crooked teeth and frizzy hair, but the self-confidence she exudes in her album photo and in her delivery blow any of the airbrushed competition away.
The album is brilliant because of the sheer simplicity of it--no synthesizers, no orgasmic moans and no Mariah trills.
By leaving her songs almost stark naked, Johnson exposes more of herself than any costume Christina Aguilera has ever worn.
Despite the deceiving bubblegum pink cover, Molly Johnson is no bubblegum pop star; she's a solid musical force not to be messed around with.