Because Lightyears is Kathy Valentines first solo album, it naturally moves ambitiously through every style shes likely wanted to try since falling for the guitar in 1972. Retouch Me, for example, offers a little spunky new wave (nodding to her tenure as the Go-Gos bassist), while the bluesy pop of Happy Endingless dukes it out with a hard rock experiment called Light Years. Experiment is right: Sometimes Valentines throaty vocals and wrangling guitar sound seem plugged into L.A. studio rock templates. But those same well-used pop-rock reference tablets are often the basis of hits by Los Angeles-based songwriters like Linda Perry or the Matrix, so they must still have some life. They certainly do on Valentines How the West was Undone, Getting By and the irresistible Somewhere to Nowhere with a few mixing board tweaks these robust, straightforward rock songs could be monster singles for Pink or Avril. Not that Valentine is somehow unworthy of them she wrote these but its obvious from the emphasis on her lyrics and talented guitar work that Lightyears is her labor of love, and not some kind of extreme makeover. Still, that doesnt mean she shouldnt look into lassoing some of Perrys money.
Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].