Picks and Pans Review: Wendy Maharry

updated 05/14/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/14/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Wendy MaHarry

MaHarry sounds faintly like a couple of other strong female songwriters. Her voice can echo the sardonic tones of Chrissie Hynde and then shuffle along with those hipsterish Rickie Lee Jones intonations. But overall the slightly off-center new-age pop style in this sharp debut is distinctly MaHarry's own.

MaHarry, a 26-year-old singer-keyboardist from L.A. keeps the listener guessing by altering her songwriting just slightly from track to track. "California" has the obligatory pop bounce that makes it an easy choice for a single. Then she sneaks in "Madman's Got It Made" with a beatniklike vocal and a piano intro that recalls Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground." While she's no anthropologist. MaHarry offers her own succinct and amusing take on "Men": "In olden times they swung on vines/And slept beneath the stars/Now we lock them up in neighborhoods/And lose them all in bars." "Cool Water Running" is the perfect title for a song that flows freely and feels so refreshing.

If MaHarry leans a bit too heavily on the influences mentioned earlier, chalk it up to inexperience. It should pay to be patient with someone who writes this well and plays the piano with such sensitivity and warmth. (A&M)

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