Beautiful Awkward Pictures
by Toni Collette and The Finish, pop (2006)
Hoola Hoop Records, ASIN B000J3EF3G

You have probably heard of Toni Collette. She is an Australian actress best known for her starring role in Muriel's Wedding but she has also starred in various big screen, small screen, and stage productions both serious and campy. Well, having proven her singing chops in the Broadway production The Wild Party, she decides to release her debut CD. The Finish happens to be her band which also includes her husband Dave Galafassi. Ms Collette wrote or co-wrote all eleven tracks on this CD and the band as a whole arranged the tracks. As it is an independent release from the small Australian label Hoola Hoops Record, you have no idea how tough it is to locate this CD. Thank heavens for Amazon and its expensive shipping charges!

The songs here are of the subtle and introspective variety. Think of the works by Sia, Tori Amos, Suzanne Vega, Annie Lennox, and Imogen Heap and Beautiful Awkward Pictures is somewhere in the mix. The title track and lead single sees Ms Collette singing in a surprisingly beautiful and understated manner as she delivers a haunting ballad all about a love that will always lingers in the mind. The band kicks in on uptempo tunes like Jonny's Lips and Look Up where Ms Collette affects sass and verve appropriate for these catchy songs.

The lyrics aren't that good - sometimes they can be embarrassingly trite and corny such as the words to the title track - but Ms Collette delivers a most listenable performance in each song that surprises me. She's not the best singer around but she can deliver where it counts. As a result, with tracks that run rampant from haunting to most pleasant, Beautiful Awkward Pictures is a CD that is actually worth a few spins on the player. I suppose one can rightfully argue that some of the songs become hard to tell apart after a while, but one can say the same about the works of Sia and Imogen Heap as well. If you are looking for some solo gal music and you've worn out the CDs by the ladies I've mentioned, Toni Collette with The Finish is here to bridge the gap between the music for the soundtrack of the lives of sensitive teenage emo girls by the likes of Dido and the music for fortysomething divorcées by the likes of Annie Lennox.

Rating: 85

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