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POP MUSIC REVIEW : An Appealing Tangle of Styles From Julianna Raye

April 05, 1993|RICHARD CROMELIN

Julianna Raye is all over the map, in more ways than one. The rookie singer is mounting a blitz of nightclubs around town to build interest in "Something Peculiar," her upcoming debut album on Warner Bros. And the music on that album is diverse to the point of incoherence.

On stage at the Mint on Thursday, the New Jersey-to-L.A. transplant didn't exert the kind of commanding presence that might unify things, but it's a pretty appealing tangle of styles, and her kind of wacky, kind of campy, kind of sweet personality was direct and genuine. Think of her as a distant, arty relative of Peg Bundy.

So does she want to be Sandy Denny or Debbie Harry? It wasn't much more clear at the Mint than on the Jeff Lynne-produced album. Jumping from cheesy, buoyant, new wave-era pop to ballads in the stately English folk-rock tradition to workouts in the sloppy American folk-rock tradition to quirky, theatrical pop in a Kurt Weill/Leiber & Stoller vein, Raye asserted herself as an intriguing but inconsistent songwriter and a singer with an appealing naturalism.

What she needs is the key to being both madcap and serious. The search continues at Le Cafe in Sherman Oaks (tonight), the Largo (Tuesday and April 20), Molly Malone's (April 13 and 24) and back to the Mint (April 15).

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