Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Feb. 27, 2004
SeelaHard Times Hit Seela's voice is her main calling card, soft and inviting, belying the darkness in her songs. Thus far in her local career, however, it's her songwriting that's been the problem, and on Hard Times Hit, once again it's the weak point. Too many ramble, fuzzy and colorless, with self-indulgent lyrics that undermine whatever mood she's aiming for. Certainly she's enlisted an impressive supporting cast: producer Brian Beattie (The Dead Milkmen, Glass Eye, Okkervil River), guitarists Craig Ross and Darwin Smith, Ephraim Owens on trumpet, Stanley Smith on clarinet, and drummer Jon Greene (Patty Griffin, Matt the Electrician). And there are a couple of inspired moments, like the bouncy folk-pop of "Nothing on You" and the Beatles-esque "You'll See" complete with psychedelic freak-out by Ross. Yet most of Hard Times Hit is a kind of punk-folk that tries for edgy and comes off as drowsy. Opener "Under the Influence" and closer "I'm Coming Over" are perfect examples of this, the first with a melody that meanders just a bit off course, and the latter with lyrics ("I'm gonna miss you, I'm gonna miss me, too") straight out of a teenager's journal.