On the first track of Esthero’s sophomore release Wikked Lil Grrrls, she ironically sings of how “we are in need of a musical revolution,” while despite that fan-site www.nearlycivilized. com declares her “a sacred blend of jazz, hip-hop, soul, funk, and rock,” she instead sounds like a blend of Kylie Minogue, Nelly Furtado, Gwen Stefani, Pink and Aslyn. She actually looks like all five of them, too. This isn’t to say it’s a bad thing; it’s just not an original thing. Revolution is nowhere in sight. Known as both “Lil’ Dukes Up” and “The Pink Pirate,” Esthero released her first LP, Breath From Another, in 1998 when she was 18, and was then compared to Bjork and Billie Holiday. Now this Canadian native has returned as part of the Reprise family and is hanging out with the likes of the Black Eyed Peas, Macy Gray and Fiona Apple, as well as recruiting Shakari Nyte, Jemeni and Jellestone to perform on her latest musical effort. Although Wikked is full of sparkly piano and guitars, collaborations with Sean Lennon and Cee-lo Green, brassy flapper- esque horns, a vocal combination of big band and R&B and songs mimicking the bluesy longing of Billie Holiday, as the album progresses, the listener’s attention span dwindles.
Though momentarily perking up at the title track (which comes stamped with Esthero’s warning that “may cause ass to shake”), tracks such as “My Honeybrown,” and “Brave Bear Woman” are confusing due to the fact that they both consist of pointless answering machine messages. Her lyrics are nothing to write home about, ranging from “Bad Boy Clyde, you know you drive me wild/ Put away your gun, why don’t you play with me?” and “Cornbread woman, yo ho and a bottle of yum/ I’m gonna have a party with my body, do ya wanna come?” Not to mention that insulting MTV such as in “We R In Need of A Musical ReVoLuTiOn,” a title that even Esthero herself admits is annoying to spell, doesn’t help. With lyrics such as “MTV, they only play the same thing,” it is almost a surefire way to never actually be on the channel, which helps explain Esthero’s invisibility and why she sees Britney on her video screen as opposed to herself.
Wikked Lil Grrrls is not a horrible album, but it is a dull, unmemorable one, which is perhaps worse and taking her farther from her musical ReVoLuTiOn. Esthero will be performing on Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Trocadero in Philadelphia, Pa.