Music Review: Terri Lee – Nasty But Nice (CD)

16 tracks is close to a double vinyl LP and Terri Lee delivers strong performances throughout the long play. Where Janet Jackson channeled Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” in her classic “Nasty,” Lee softens the blow with the fact that she’s “nice” as well as being, well….”disagreeable” (the prettiest descriptive word for “nasty” that could be found!…it is a ROUGH word!) The song is getting consistent airplay on WMWM Salem, courtesy of veteran d.j. Bob “Raccoon” Nelson. That’s how it came to my attention, college radio doing its job exposing artists who deserve repeated spins.

With guitarists Johnny A (on “Montgomery Blues”) and Peter Tentindo adding their talents (Terri Lee and Tentindo both attended Salem State College,) and some of the songs recorded by Kenny Lewis at his Mixed Emotions studio – information given to this reviewer by the artist – Lewis who worked with the group Stryper, of course. Lee was encouraged to record her songs by the highly gifted Brian Maes at his Open Mic nights at the Boston St. Cafe in Lynn (now O’Briens.) Bob St. John, a familiar name in these parts, produced.

Sophisticated adult pop on some of the material, like “Diamond in the Rough,” at first feel a touch of Jim Steinman’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” from Bonnie Tyler, with some Melissa Manchester leanings.

“Aurora Borealis” adds an almost Celtic feel, Lee’s voice showing its prowess, as does the songwriting here. So different from the other tracks and most inviting. Here’s a hit Celine Dion missed out on and someone should, perhaps, get it to her.

It’s a bit of a dare these days putting a dozen plus four copyrights on a disc, however Lee spices things up by crossing genres. “Montgomery Blues” goes from old-style dance to hip New Wave Blues, solid guitar, harp and a cooking rhythm section.

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“Grow Old With You stylistically is in line with “Diamond in the Rough,” while the three minute sixteen second “Real Love,” (not the Beatles tune of the same name,) is pure pop with a driving beat. “Hold Me” does another 180 – which is great, adding diversity musically while the message stays the same: this is an album of romance that the title track doesn’t hint at. A CD full of surprises and one with much depth.