Marié Digby – Unfold
Hollywood Records (4/08/08)
Pop / Singer-songwriter
While the rumor mills may have turned Marié Digby from Internet sensation to manufactured pop queen of the moment, there’s little to fault her on with this debut full-length. What came first, the record deal or the do-it-yourself YouTube videos? At this point, what does it matter?
Unlike the glut of other teen/early-20-somethings cranking out songs other people wrote, with little artistic merit to back up the attention, Digby has the following going for her:
1) She wrote all but one of the tracks on Unfold. The sole track in question is a re-working of Rhianna’s “Umbrella”, which ironically garnered Miss Digby all the attention pre-album release.
2) Digby obviously had a hand in composing most of the album. In addition to singing, she plays piano, synth, Rhodes and acoustic and electric guitar.
3) The lyrics, while staying a little on the safe side (tales of lost love, love, relationships, and emotional distress), are at least imaginative and show promise from a creativity standpoint.
4) And finally, Digby has the voice to back everything up.
The singer/songwriter incorporates a variety of influences into her songs. There’s the usual smattering of pop-rock throughout, but Digby takes a chance or two over the course of the album’s journey. There’s a rock edge to “Girlfriend”, a melancholic beauty to the piano-ballad “Spell” (which features some of Digby’s best vocal performances of the set) and a very comfortable adult-contemporary feel to both “Beauty in Walking Away” and the title-track (which could draw strong comparisons to Michelle Branch’s early work crossed with, say, Sarah McLachlan). And, of course, let’s not forget the insanely hook-laden “Say It Again”, which is getting Digby a bulk of the attention on radio and music television at the moment.
So despite the backlash on Digby’s “humble” beginnings, Unfold does its damnedest to prove the naysayers wrong. In an ironic twist, it’s one of the things that makes Digby stand out that is also the weakest part of this album. Songs like “Unfold”, “Traffic” and “Voice on the Radio” really shine because of the lyrics, but a song like “Miss Invisible”, which is so haunting and beautiful on first listen, loses a little of its luster once you really listen to the lyrics (at least for an adult male listening to the track, as the song is about a young, female, outcast forced to sit under the bleachers; there’s not much to relate to). Even with occasionally questionable lyrics, however, Digby can still take a song like “Stupid for You” and do enough to make it work.
Unfold is a very solid first outing which sounds much better than any debut should; it will be interesting to see what Digby chooses to do for an encore.