Sally Timms

As a member of the Mekons, Sally Timms' sexy, almost secretive vocals have added loads of likability to the brooding, political, country-punk carnage of that band. The occasional solo disc has presented a keen interpreter of songwriters as diverse as John Cale and Johnny Cash. Quite often she has proven a refreshing bridge between post-punk and alternative country.

Not this time. Taken song by song, this attempt at updating Nico comes closer to Marianne Faithful, just as jaded but not nearly as ruthless or honest. Timms' sweet tenor is engulfed in the sludge of the material. Tempos drag on, and one dreams of those old days when Timms sounded like Deborah Harry on Mekon classics such as "Millionaire" or "Wild and Blue." Even fellow Mekon Jon Langford proves little help. Perhaps that's the point. Maybe Timms is not asking for help from anyone, not even herself. Her weary, chain-smoking cover shot is reflected by the contents within.

But when she really lets go, as on the lovely "The Fools We Are as Men" (written by drunken genius Ryan Adams), Timms is singing from a strength of experience rarely attempted in these days of tomboy posturing from the likes of Avril Lavigne. Content with her sexuality, even if it's in a male-approved minidress, Sally Timms knows her men. Now if she'd only lighten up before they all jump from hotel windows.

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