Lisa Loeb

The most difficult situation described on Lisa Loeb's onerously titled album is a toss-up between getting rear-ended ("Try") and being romantically spurned by a fellow 5-year-old ("Now I Understand"). But then how could Loeb, who grew up comfortably in the suburbs of Dallas and who 10 years ago had a No. 1 hit with her very first single, "Stay," be expected to explain all of life's trials and tribulations?

Once the burden of living up to the album's title is forgiven, The Way It Really Is isn't really that different from Loeb's previous efforts. Her voice is still as cute as the animals she thanks in her liner notes and, while emotive, never sounds strained. Dweezil Zappa, Loeb's ex-boyfriend and TV co-host (the unusual cooking/travel show Dweezil and Lisa airs on the Food Network), livens things up on "I Control the Sun" with a lighthearted guitar solo. On "Fools Like Me," manicured harmonies and a mechanized rhythm track update Loeb's usually simple sound. Still, it isn't quite enough to keep the album from feeling like it's just slightly out of touch with reality.

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Sander Wolf

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