On her debut LP, Mandy Rowden demonstrates new talent. As a songwriter, she's capable of writing scary and defiantly pointed lyrics ("Haunt You"). Meanwhile, she performs on guitar, harmonica, keys, and percussion, and possesses skills to attract collaborators including Lloyd Maines, Redd Volkaert, Brad Rice, and Chip Dolan. As happens all too often these days with Americana artists, however, the local's vocal range doesn't match her other gifts. Too frequently Rowden's attempts at passion are obscured by a voice that lacks nuance. Like her closest Austin contemporary Sunny Sweeney, the East Texas native kicks some butt with her pen, especially on the title track and venom-spitting "A Courtesy, You Wouldn't Understand." Yet in the alt.country world that Rowden inhabits, she's got Bad Habits that need addressing.
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