Sandy Dillon is the oughts’ version of Cindy Lauper, pre-suck Liz Phair, and Shirley Manson. Totally pop-tinged alternative rock with a sultry voice that doesn’t really break any new ground in terms of musical style or arrangement. Sure, the early sixties Bond-like orchestra (in “It Must Be Love”) and synth-noises copped from Massive Attack might be aurally pleasing, but not ultimately sating. Each track treads the same ground as the previous one, adding little, if nothing to the mix. Aurally pleasing, Sandy Dillon is like nu-metal band Earshot in that most of the tracks on “Nobody’s Sweetheart” are virtually indistinguishable from four or five other artists in contemporary time. Infuriating at moments, Sandy’s gravelly voice (think a decrepit, chain-smoking Betty Boop) destroys the enjoyment one could draw out of a normally very catchy and solid radio-friendly track (especially “Shoreline”). Most of the disc takes place with Sandy working at a snail’s pace, never letting the moment take eir to a higher tempo. Thus, the listener aurally drowns in the molasses, the painfully slow tempo of “Nobody’s Sweetheart”.
However, the backing musicians on “Nobody’s Sweetheart” shine even if Sandy struggles to make eir’s disc listenable. The rich background noise, heavy in bass and synth during “A Girl Like Me” is just one example that in every rough, there can be a diamond or two to be found. Vocal discipline on the part of Sandy would be the one suggestion I would have for eir, as there are literally tons of times on “Nobody’s Sweetheart” where a more solid tone by Sandy would have made all the difference in changing the track from mediocre to endearing.
Sandy Dillon will be the darling of the indie-rock scene in the next few months, I’m sure, and yet this road has been traversed many times in the past. The instrumentation on “Nobody’s Sweetheart” is as solid as one could hope for, but Sandy’s dusty voice is very offsetting to individuals that are not familiar. In fact, one track on the disc can come near to being a track where Sandy’s voice actually works with the instrumentation laid down; the rushed “I don’t need anyone” in “Now You’re Mine” is immediately dashed to an unlistenable state when Sandy follows that up with a two cats fighting while a scat singer does eir’s business delivery. There are some bright points to this disc, but everything is handicapped by Sandy’s sheer disregard for euphony.
Top Tracks: Now You’re Mine, Don’t Blame You Now
Sandy Dillon – Nobody’s Sweetheart / 2003 One Little Indian Records / 13 Tracks / http://www.onelittleindian-us.com/sandydillon.html / Reviewed 18 July 2004