The Pale Green Girl
Penelope Houston has come almost completely full circle in her 20 plus years as a performer. She started off as the teenage singer/guitarist of the seminal, but short-lived punk band The Avengers, and spent most of the ’80s and ’90s trying her hand at traditional folk rock. These days, she’s moved into the middle ground: late ’60s organ-heavy garage rock, one of the proto-punk templates.
From the faux movie poster cover artwork to the copious amount of autoharp, The Pale Green Girl is an authentic homage to summer of love greats like The Kinks, The Animals and The Byrds. Houston re-enlists her longtime collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Pat Johnson to help with the songwriting and arranging, and together the duo turns in some of the album’s better songs, like the breezy, wind-milled power chord heavy “Take My Hand” and the Aileen Wuornos inspired roadhouse hell “Soul Redeemer.” Houston’s solo writing efforts are hit-or-miss. “Bottom Line” has effortless verses, but stumbles through an awkward, trite chorus, while the title track — possibly the album’s best song — has Houston giving a fiery performance that would make Eric Burdon proud.
The Pale Green Girl isn’t without its weaknesses, however. The rhythm rarely deviates from a medium tempo, leaving only the minimal change in instrumentation to differentiate the songs. Also, with most songs clocking in at over 4 minutes, quite a bit of each song’s initial attitude is lost by the time the third chorus rolls around. To be honest, this album is good and largely what I expected it to be, but it doesn’t really excite me enough to recommend it beyond Houston’s already established fan base and hardcore ’60s rock-philes. Maybe next time.
Penelope Houston: www.penelope.net