If you’re currently in a bad relationship, recently escaped one, are thinking about leaving one, or have ever been dumped, made a horrible one-night-stand mistake, or gotten a tattoo you regret, then this is the album for you!
If not, the well-trod ground of heartbreak and loss will wear very thin after a few songs. It’s not until more than halfway through this debut album — on the hard-driving “Can’t Complain” — that frontwoman Jennifer Van Meter breaks out of her navel gazing and gives us something original: “Me and my guitar all night long gettin’ it on ’til the break of dawn.” That’s what she’s good at, and that’s what this effort needs more of.
Should’ve Been A Weather Girl begins favorably enough with “Something Wrong,” a sultry strut involving tattoos, stripped-off pearl-button shirts, making an intimate mistake while knowing full-well the implications, but still being free to hit the road and move on when the sun rises.
This is where the cliches begin: “The Habit” (watch out — she has a habit of breaking hearts!), “Illegal” (if she were any better it’d be illegal), “Keep On” (love ’em and leave ’em to keep the one that got away off her mind), “Hard to Say” (the lingering ghost of a lost love — *sigh*) and “Suckerpunch” (unrequited love, fearing she’ll lose someone she’s never had). It’s as if Van Meter were consciously trying to cover all the bases of the heartbreak experience, and although I can understand the value of dealing with these emotions through your art, listening to song after song as she examines it from every angle becomes somewhat tiresome.
There is superb talent in this music, and judging by the last third of the album, Jennifer Van Meter can write some whip-smart songs — and she’s got one helluva band: Ruben Dobbs – Guitars, Cory Deere – Bass, Jimmy Jacobs – Keys, Dave Hadley – Pedal Steel, Noel White – Drums. But by the time “Hard to Say” rolls around, you just wish she’d get past the pain and move on.
The tattoo removal image resurfaces in “Rid of You,” a metaphor for new beginnings (finally, she’s moving on?), and Van Meter picks up her luggage, so to speak, gets on with her life in the final songs leading up to the final cut, “Weather Girl”, giving herself permission to bring on the rain or let the sun shine, as well as make mistakes, because weather girls are “not always right.”
Van Meter is poetic at times and an awfully good musician with deep Bluegrass roots — she’s a spitfire on the Stratocaster — but on the whole, I’d wait to see what she attempts next.