One accusation which could never be levelled at Nell Bryden is that she lacks versatility. The talented New Yorker somehow manages to mix 40s and 50s style jazz, blues and country music into one album. And it almost works.
Nell Bryden is undoubtedly at her best on her blues and jazz inspired tracks, such as in the playful and catchy ‘Tonight’, and the title track, where she accompanies her witty lyrics with attitude and an addictive jazz beat. And with the heartfelt ‘Goodbye’, she proves that she is equally capable of tender vocals and emotive yet understated percussion.
Unfortunately, the album goes rapidly downhill where country music exerts its heaviest influence. ‘Only Life I Know’ is irritatingly suggestive of barn dances and banjos, and the dull chorus of ‘Green Dress’ leans dangerously towards an unwelcome fusion of country and Irish music.
Overall, Second Time Around is a charming collection of retro easy-listening tracks with enough highlights to compensate for its occasional lows. One to listen to while sashaying around in a vintage prom dress.