Carsie Blanton, So Ferocious (Independent)

reviews.carsieblantonThough she sits squarely in the singer-songwriter mode—enough to make both Paul Simon and Loudon Wainwright approve—Carsie Blanton has, through half a dozen or so albums, evolved from just another jazz-folkie hotwiring Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan into twee to a pure pop butterfly able to go toe to toe with anyone on adult alternative whatever radio. Yet what really sets her apart is her sexual stance, best personified by her logo: a topless humanoid in panties standing in front of a huge but equally amorphous lion. She’s her own lethargic pixie dream girl, oozing sensuality offhandedly but on her own terms. Which makes her perfect for this town.

Carsie is by this point on a mission to own her sexuality, using it as a tool to make the patriarchy uncomfortable, as if titles like “Ravenous,” “The Animal I Am,” “Lovin Is Easy” and the title track didn’t already make that obvious. It’s sex as a weapon, not one of seduction but defiance: “You don’t scare me,” goes the hook of one of the better songs here. If she had a vagina monologue, it would likely be a rant, albeit an admittedly coquettish one. She’s liberated herself not just from being an object but being a subgenre: This is her slickest, poppiest record yet, completing her transformation from coquette to libertine with some uptempo rock on “Ravenous,” dance-pop on the title track, and even some Motown on “Scoundrel.” Think of her as Amy Winehouse without the demons. Yet she can’t help but be as free with her heart as she is with her sexuality, which is why the anthemic ballad “To Be Known” tenderly examines why people put not just their genitals but also their feelings (and vocals) out there for examination.