Adrienne Pierce

By Peter Hemminger

The feedback opening Small Fires is misleading at best, a split-second bait before the switch to the polished pop-rock that follows. Pierce’s songs are friendly and approachable, often mixing sharp acoustic guitar lines with electronic beats and washes of guitar in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Mazzy Star. Above all, it’s Pierce’s playful, breathy vocals that keep the listener interested.

Shame, then, about the production by Sarah McLaughlin guitarist Sean Ashby. That brief bit of feedback aside, Ashby removes any edge from Small Fires. All of the instrumentation is pushed tastefully into the background. Apparently Ashby didn’t want to run the risk of overshadowing Pierce’s lyrics with an interesting backdrop.

It’s disheartening when an artist who seems willing to open themselves up in their music is held back by production aimed at crossover success. Pierce sounds like an artist worth seeing in concert, her appearances at Lilith Fair and SxSW are testament to that. If you’ve been thinking of looking up Pierce, look for her there instead

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