CD Review of Bleeding Heart Graffiti by Nina Gordon

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Bleeding Heart Graffiti
starstarstarno starno star Label: Warner Bros.
Released: 2006
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Nina Gordon, for those of you for whom the name fails to ring a bell, was one half of the principal songwriting team behind Veruca Salt, the girrrl group who brought you "Seether," one of the great one-off hits of the '90s (and who brought Minty Fresh founders Anthony Musiala and Jim Powers a few houses and fancy cars). What's she been up to, you ask? Well, aside from releasing a solo record about six years ago...not much. Bleeding Heart Graffiti has been in limbo for so long, the smart money would have been on it never coming out – but lo and behold, somebody in the Nina Gordon camp must have some dirty pictures of a muckity muck at Warner Bros., because the album's in stores this week.

Before you jump to any nasty conclusions, this is not because Graffiti sucks the big one, but simply because artists of Gordon's limited commercial stature don't normally survive this many years in the wilderness; by all rights, she should be on some damn indie or other by now. Anyway, Bleeding Heart Graffiti doesn't suck – but the million-dollar question is, is the album any good? And the answer actually sort of depends.

The thing is, if all you've ever heard of Veruca Salt is "Seether" (and let’s face it, that’s most of us), Gordon's solo output doesn't make a damn bit of sense. The band from whence she came showed signs of being Cheap Trick in skirts – which is actually a disturbingly pleasurable dream for no small number of rock nerds – but as a solo artist, she's all soft focus and lip gloss. Not only are her albums 100% bereft of grit or edge, her lyrics are almost entirely concerned with the kind of hysterical ohmiGOD l-u-v-love that is more than a little disconcerting when given voice by a grown woman. The album's title is wholly descriptive. Anybody who listened to Gordon's first solo record and figured its preponderance of doodle-heart mush was just something she was working through, or maybe a cop to Top 40, should abandon all hope – she's got a piano and a love jones, and that's about it.

However, if what you're looking for is a stack (a thick stack, mind you; Graffiti weighs in at fourteen tracks) of impeccably polished, well-written ballads – with a little room for mid-tempo "rockers" like "Suffragette" and "Turn On Your Radio" – then head to your neighborhood record store and purchase this album without delay. Really, it sounds like damning with faint praise, but it isn't – glossy AAA/AC sets don't come much better than this. You may not be able to keep yourself from wishing Gordon would mess up her hair a little and turn the amps up to eleven again, but that's your problem, not hers.

~Jeff Giles