Nellie McKay: Obligatory Villagers

Nellie McKay. <i>Hungry Mouse</i>.

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Throwing daggers with a smile, young New York iconoclast Nellie McKay uses a cheery delivery and bright, Broadway-friendly tunes to mask subversive intentions on her exuberant third album. The jaunty piano shuffle “Mother of Pearl” mocks antifeminists who complain, “Can’t those chicks do anything but whine?” while “Politan,” a sultry romantic ballad costarring alto sax great Phil Woods and bebop jazz vocalist Bob Dorough, conjures visions of tropical desire. McKay has a knack for sublime silliness, too, as the swingin’ “Zombie” demonstrates. But “Testify” offers something truly special, a soaring, inspirational anthem about standing up for your beliefs that doesn’t feel like a bunch of lazy platitudes.

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