Minnie Trooper

Driver's not a songwriter yet — but she's legit

With her latest disc, Seastories, actress-turned-singer Minnie Driver proves she's not just another actor — OK, I know, you're bored already. Every time some starlet gets a wild hair up her La Perla-clad butt to make a record, the publicity machine's party line is always, "She's not just another actress-turned-singer."

Except in Driver's case it's true, if only because it's obvious her musical drive comes from a real desire for self-expression and not some cash-register-eyed agent bent on "expanding her brand." She was signed to Island before making Circle of Friends, don't forget, so leave the actress-singer stigma to Lindsay and Hilary and anyone else who reeks of Pro Tools and writes songs about paparazzi. When those girls tour — if they tour — they sell out arenas. Driver's slogging it out in modest clubs like Café du Nord.

But just because the artist's motives are legit doesn't mean the results are spectacular. Seastories does not signal the second coming of Joni Mitchell. In refashioning herself as a musical performer, Driver proves she possesses a prettily textured voice, but the record's cliché, sometimes cringe-worthy lyrics — featuring a lot of "me/free," "sun/everyone" rhyme schemes — indicate she has a ways to go before she earns her Grammy. Her heart's in the right place, though — in fact, it's all over the place. Driver repeats the word "love" (or "lover," "loving," "beloved") fully 54 times over 12 tracks.

Minnie Driver.
Minnie Driver.


Monday, Aug. 13, at 9 p.m. Admission is $17-20; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com for more info.
Café du Nord

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Still, writing your own lyrics is no small feat when your Oscar-nominated reputation precedes you. Even as she lays herself bare emotionally in these songs, Driver invites way more criticism than your average no-name coffeehouse singer. Winning over more than 200 skeptical hipsters night after night on the road is different than brushing off a bad review in Variety from the comfort of the hair-and-makeup trailer. I'd like to see Lohan pull that off.

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