Milk For Your Motors
A classic car with many oil changes can build up sludge and over time loses the gusto and enjoyment of performance driving over curvy country roads. This is what Gemma Ray’s latest album, Milk for Your Motors, felt like listening to it from beginning to end.
“The Wheel” is a strong start with Ms. Ray’s well-known edgy twist to girl-group 50s/60s romantic pop ballads. Unfortunately, the album soon falls flat with an uninteresting string of 50’s-sweet-chanteuse-meets-country-and-western. “When I Kissed You,” “Long Live This Life,” and “Waving at Mirrors” is one long parade of drab. The saving grace to this album is the great imagery that Ms. Ray paints in her lyrics with songs like “Rubbing Out Your Name.” “The Right Thing Did Me Wrong” offers some respite with the rumba/western twang mix and “You Changed Me” ends on a somewhat higher note. Despite these little glimmers of hope that will get the album moving, it just sputters out at the end.
Gemma Ray’s songs were the hip B-side ’45s in the soda shop jukebox that were worth the listen when you were tired of all the formulaic pop songs. Or it was the music playing in a film noir scene where the wronged man encounters the femme fatale and you know something’s going to go awry. In either case, the turntable needle’s stuck on the record grooves of Gemma Ray’s latest album of ’50s/’60s retro-alternative diddies. If Ms. Ray can flush the most of the milky crud out of the engine and lube with a bit more Lights Out Zoltar!, then we’ll be ready for the musical ride over dangerous curves that we love most about her music.