Jamie McDell is not Taylor Swift. Nor is she Missy Higgins. She is a down-to-earth Kiwi pop/country singer/songwriter, and when judged for its own merits (rather than against any other global phenomenon country/pop stars), ‘Ask Me Anything’ is a very good album. While sounding similar to her 2012 debut, ‘Six Strings And A Sailboat’, there is an obvious musical and emotional progression between the two. With plenty of strong choruses and funky hooks evident on the punchy Crash, This Time and opening single Dumb, it’s actually the bridges that are her strength, as demonstrated with Falling, Back Of My Mind and elsewhere.
Produced by Sydney-based Scot Stuart Crichton, the 13-track album shifts regularly from upbeat good times to slower sadder tunes. The soundscape is equally varied in approach, the moody piano backing of Moon Shines Red a prime example. McDell’s voice does sometimes hit the saccharine pop notes and Back Of My Mind, featuring a vocal duet with Thirsty Merc frontman Rai Thistlewayte, proves a pop highlight. Given that her first album won McDell a Pop Album Tui this one warrants bringing her even more success.