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What I’m listening to this week: Ida Maria

May 28, 2009

Fortress ’round My Heart – 2009

Fortress ’round My Heart is quite an interesting listen.  Interesting can be good and interesting can also be bad.  In Ida Maria‘s case, she delivers generous helpings of both on her debut album.

Beginning with her unique vocal style…there’s no questioning the fact that she has a strong set of pipes.  Her voice lies somewhere in between Pink and Fiona Apple with a dash of Katy Perry sass.  She can croon, she can howl, and she has a pretty good range, if not quite as wide as some of those vocalists.  One of the major issues on Fortress ’round My Heart is how Ida Maria chooses to use her skills.  There are times when her relatively unseasoned voice works, particularly on the breathless opener “Oh My God” when she captures the frantic emotion of the song quite well, and “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked”, where even though it sounds like she’s struggling to keep up with the pace of the music at times, it works because the song is carefree and her voice is so powerful.

Other times, her loud howling rasp and squeaky affectations are just grating.  This is particularly true on “Stella” where for inexplicable reasons she just lets her voice veer off key and “Drive Away My Heart” where the overwrought rasp actually gets in the way of what would otherwise be an emotionally-charged rock tinged vocal.

The actual songwriting itself also see-saws back and forth for me.  Again, the standouts, “Oh My God” and “I Like You…” are fun and entertaining.  Other songs like, “Louie” and “Queen of the World” are fun and listenable, but just incredibly cheesy.  The songwriting on most of the album sounds like Ida Maria spent too much time doodling about her status as a “rebel” in a journal in senior Honors English class in high school and then proudly took it into the recording studio.  “Keep Me Warm”, an ode to coffee and cigarettes, is probably the worst offender, although “Morning Light” and “Forgive Me” are fighting hard for the title.

The best reasons to listen to Fortress ’round My Heart are the musical tracks.  The music is upbeat and catchy (minus the occasional confusing fake feedback noises) and when Ida Maria is in sync with it, it makes the ubiquitous type of song you envision having stuck in your head for entire summers.  Even with the trying-way-too-hard lyrics, some of the songs on Fortress ’round My Heart seem ready for soundtracking a delightfully screwy rom-com or girl-power chick flick.  That’s not a bad thing for Ida Maria at this stage in the game.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Abby Smith umgd permalink
    June 8, 2009 4:29 pm

    I bought her album and I agree with you on some points but I think that she has good diversity throughout her entire cd. There’s alot of artists that their cds are just one song in thirteen different ways. I don’t think that this is the case with Ida at all…and omg I have seen her live and she is amazing!! If you like at least one song you will love her concerts. She has so many dates

    • austingirlmusicguide permalink*
      June 8, 2009 6:20 pm

      Hey Abby,

      Thanks for commenting – good to know about the live performances! She’s obviously got tons of energy, so I’m glad to hear she puts on a good show. Hopefully I can catch her at a festival sometime…

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