What 16-year-old Allison Iraheta brought to the most recent season of American Idol was rock-chick spunk, a goofy teen countenance, a fondness for hair products and the husky, Marlboro-stained belt of a singer three times her age. What the now 17-year-old Allison Iraheta brings to her debut album, Just Like You, is a diluted version of all that. While You's various producers recognize that guitars suit her distinctive voice (think Heart), they often opt to digitally sand down its edge or dogpile on the lipgloss-y mall-pop riffage so thick you might as well be jamming out to Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson or Ashlee Simpson. The album is a grab bag of moods, by turns kiss-off rousing (the fierce "Friday I'll Be Over U"), daring ("D Is for Dangerous") and troubling for a would-be role model in the Rihanna-as-abuse-victim era ("Beat Me Up"). Directly and indirectly, the amusingly technophobic "Robot Love" and adoringly devotional "No One Else" recall '80s FM cheese in a not-unpleasant way. In this context, a wide-open-spaces song like "Scars" — where acoustic guitars and soft strings allow Iraheta's voice to take center stage — comes as a relief. —Cummings
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