Saving Jane was basically thrown together in the past few years at Ohio State
University, but this female-fronted rock band has managed to fill its debut
album with more hooks than many bands write in their entire careers. Fronted by
powerful vocalist Marti Dodson, Saving Jane is presented to the world with
Girl Next Door, a record that is surely going to turn a few heads. This is
not hip indie rock, nor is it whiny singer/songwriter fare. It’s ballsy power
pop that is served up with anything that resembles a good time. Sure, the lyrics
are sometimes a bit cliché, but musically Saving Jane can stand up to anything
on the charts.
“Who’s Crying Now” is not a remake of the Journey classic, but a song that gets
to its hook so fast that it has no choice but to reel you in. “Happy” is a
catchy track that will draw comparison to the likes of Avril Lavigne and Kelly
Clarkson, but there is definitely more edge to the music, and Dodson more
closely resembles a young Pat Benatar. The title track is a bit cheesy, with
tongue-in-cheek lyrics that are more typical of what you might expect from a
high school punk band (She is the prom queen/I’m in the marching band/She is
a cheerleader/I’m sitting in the stands/She gets the top bunk/I’m sleeping on
the floor/She’s Miss America/I’m just the girl next door). Clever, but a
theme that’s frankly a bit played out.
Things mature almost overnight when Saving Jane launches into three
super-melodic, acoustic-driven tracks, “Ordinary,” “Sleep On It,” and “Mary.”
The “Na-na-na-na-na-na” refrain in the latter is the kind that will stick to
your ears for days. “Come Down to Me” is a piano-laced piece that sounds like a
grown-up Vanessa Carlton.
Yes, there are many references here to the pop icons that many of you are sick
of hearing about and seeing all over television. And make no mistake about it;
Saving Jane has many of those same elements in its music. Sugary melodies and
power chords will do that. But the bottom line is that Girl Next Door is
a rock album, unpretentious and unrelenting, and a very solid debut. Even Butch
Walker would be proud.