Juliana Hatfield

In Exile Deo (Zo/Rounder Records)

Juliana Hatfield seemingly has everything going for her. She has a girly, interesting voice, a cooler-than-thou attitude, and she carries plenty of indie cred courtesy of her stint in the on-again/off-again Blake Babies. Still, on every one of her solo albums she's managed to disappoint. In Exile Deo, her seventh, is no exception.

At least it starts off right with "Get in Line"--probably Hatfield's most emotive song to date. "I'm dying from a lack of love and affection/Get in line/I'm giving myself away," she seethes over dark guitar loops and a slight shuffle. A less serious but equally fun "Dirty Dog" has Hatfield explaining, "You can flip me over from behind/That would be all right/But I'm not down with the dirty dog," in what her official bio describes as a song about, ahem, "personal boundaries."

Hatfield's real talent is sounding vulnerable while using her voice to cut through a mash of guitars, yet In Exile Deo spends most of its time on vocal mismatches like the draining "Tomorrow Never Comes" and the clumsy "Because We Love You." It's missteps like these that ultimately prove the album another frustrating waste of Hatfield's potential.

 
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