Catch Me If You Can!

Viki Nova

Think For Yourself Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Coming from the same, breezy vein as John Mayer, Michelle Branch and Sheryl Crow's spunkiest works, Viki Nova arrived on the scene in 2001 in true breakout fashion: she talked her way into opening for The Barenaked Ladies and Train during a music festival.

Her 2003 release, Catch Me if You Can! may be on a small label (Think For Yourself Records), but close your eyes and lean back and you would swear the album would feel right at home on Universal or Sony records. Nova's ear for a poppy hook and her songwriting skills make my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Catch Me if You Can! seem like a guilty pleasure listen at one moment, and a genuine stab at creating a great album the next moment.

The topics are your typical singer-songwriter foray: general listlessness ("Nothing Changes"), getting involved with the wrong person ("Addicted") and empowerment ("I'm Yours"). Sometimes, she can nail a mood down in one line ("Who knew I needed you to be my best?" she sings in "Addicted"), and then drop the tired "moth to a flame" metaphor in another song.

Uneven songwriting isn't Nova's only problem. Too often, she tries too hard to emulate songwriters of alterna-past. One song, she seems to be trying to re-create Gwen Stefani's manic spirit, another she tries in earnest to replicate Sheryl Crow's countrified bohemian quality. All of these artists are great, but a lot of Catch Me if You Can! sounds like background music at a really good coffee house.

Still, it's a really, really good coffee house. I'll still take this album over Liz Phair's latest. And if you turn off your inner critic, it's hard not to enjoy ear candy like "Too Much" and "At All Costs." Perhaps the best compliment I can give to Catch Me If You Can! is that after listening to it once and putting it away for about two weeks, I still had the leadoff track buzzing through my head.

So who is Viki Nova? Is she a great songwriter willing to be surrounded by great production like Gwen Stefani? Is she a straight-up rocker or will she do a radical departure and go hardcore on her next release? Catch Me if You Can! doesn't offer much in terms of answers. It's good enough to make you curious of her next move. Hopefully with the right producer and songwriting risks, Nova can eventually reach the same level as her influences.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2004 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Think For Yourself Records, and is used for informational purposes only.