Which is why her long-awaited follow-up, Grand, is a bit of a disappointment. Sure, tunes like "The Taste of You," "How to Be a Lady," and "Lucky Day" (a Judy Garland vehicle, of all things) bounce with the dirty-blues chord progressions of Distillation, and "Taste" particularly grooves with its Tin Pan Alley horn section and McKeown"s flirty lyrics: "I want a little taste of you ... that"s all." But about half the tracks -- especially "Slung-Lo," "A Better Wife," and "Born to Hum" -- are produced with superfluous overdubbed vocals and a too-glossy sheen that renders them barely distinguishable from the latest gems by any number of indie-pop chick singers.
Is McKeown dooming herself to mainstream homogeneity or will she strip away the polish from these new tunes live with her touring trio? Given her unquestionable raw talent, it will be well worth finding out.