Tara Slone
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Tara Slone


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Just Look Pretty and Sing - 2007

Radio play for singles, "My Little Secret", "We Were Stars", and "The Perfect Girl".



Here's a gnarled but handy homespun metaphor – to best study the surface of something, you must sweep aside all the stuff on top. It holds true in life and it holds especially true when considering the deeply personal, fiercely rocking new release from singer/songwriter Tara Slone, Just Look Pretty and Sing.

Since Slone's career is already jammed with achievements and accolades (and some pretty snappy anecdotes), it's easy to be distracted from the story at hand. So to better focus on the new record, which Slone describes as "My baby… something that means the world to me," let's address a few things straight off and move on:

· Yes, Tara Slone was the commanding voice of critically acclaimed pop/rock combo Joydrop. No they're not together anymore (record label woes, not bad blood) but the experience was defining and exalting.

· Yes, Tara Slone was that dynamo, Sabbath-and-Bowie-belting chick (a finalist actually) on Rock Star: INXS. No she didn't win but she's fine with that. Really.

· Yes, the album's title was inspired by a true-life comment made to Slone by someone she thought she knew. Yes it hurt like hell but it got her reflecting and songwriting. And no, she doesn't want to talk about it.

Right, let's proceed. Almost three years in the making and built on a bedrock foundation of words and music by Slone and Jordon Zadorozny (Hole, Melissa Auf Der Maur, Blinker the Star), Just Look Pretty and Sing pits sheer rock ballast against knowing lyrical nuance, abiding melodic sensibilities against ferocious guitar squalls.

That alone would make for a righteous rock record. But add to the mix Slone's sometimes gritty, sometimes angelic classically honed voice – an instrument of dazzling power and elasticity – and the result is nirvana. Not for nothing is Slone considered one of contemporary rock's most inimitable performers.

"This record is just so meaningful for me. I don't want to rate it as more meaningful than Joydrop because Joydrop really informed this album," Slone allows. "But this is my baby and it means the world to me. I put my heart and soul into it and put my proverbial ass on the line," she cracks. "This is me, exposed."

Whether she's wailing, as she does (in both French and English) on the album's snarling, blustery focus track, My Little Secret, or soaring high above the action in the poignant Adore, Slone's voice is the lifeblood of each song. If further proof of her exquisite command of a song is needed, consider Slone's brash take on the David Bowie chestnut Suffragette City. She effortlessly achieves the perfect balance between homage and reinterpretation.

"It was a song I performed on Rock Star: INXS," Slone explains. "I love the song, I love Bowie and it just seemed like a good addition to the record. We kind of took it and made it our own so it's not exactly like the original."

As for the rest of the album, Slone says, "I tried very hard to write music that I love and to come from an honest place. Because this record came together over a long span of time, there was a lot of space for introspection. And this was the first time I felt very comfortable writing.

"In Joydrop we were four songwriters writing and I didn't necessarily always feel invited to participate in that way. So this record was very freeing for me. And for most of that time I was in a fairly intense relationship so…," she laughs, "that always helps."

There's little doubt that Just Look Pretty and Sing would have been a different beast were it not for the profound involvement of Jordon Zadorozny, who served as co-songwriter, producer and studio player plus muse of sorts.

Take, for example, his peripheral but lasting impact on the song, The Perfect Girl, which Slone describes as "my ode to Hall & Oates and the Honeydrippers.

"That was one of the magical things about working with Jordon. He's just got such eclectic tastes. We were listening to all kind of different stuff and revisiting stuff I might otherwise have discarded like Hall & Oates who I came to love.

"Jordon and I go way back," Slone continues. "We both lived in Montreal in the early 90s and had friends in common. We didn't know each other but we knew of each other. I discovered him when Blinker the Star came out and was awestruck by his talent.

"Then a few months after Joydrop broke up (in late 2002) and I was starting to think about co-writers, I ran into Jordon at a show. He was totally open to the idea of doing some writing with me so I headed to Pembroke, Ontario where he's based and it just clicked."

Slone's Joydrop-era fans will find several touchstones on Just Look Pretty and Sing. For example, the song American Dreamgirl, which originally appeared on the band's widely lauded 2001 sophomore release Viberate, surfaces in renewed form on the new disc.

"It's a song I wrote about being a woman in the record industry and I thought it warranted a second chance on my new record. It was planned as a si