Jackie (Holla Records)

Jackie 

Jackie (Holla Records)

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When it comes to female-fronted midriff rock, first impressions are usually enough to get you in the game. Former Mojo vocalist/tambourine-shaker Jackie LaPonza not only has the looks; she can hold a note and make it swell until you're both about to pop. One record into her career, comparisons to a young Gwen Stefani are inevitable, but some casual guitar skanking and a downright embarrassing interlude from an unidentified rock-rapper won't help make the case.

So far, Jackie is a one-trick pony with an ace on the payroll. Mushroomhead's Steve "Skinny" Felton produced the disc, shaping a passable live performer into an artist with potential. Coaxing her awkward backing band into moments of grace, Felton provides texture, layering on acoustic strumming, shaky riffing, and electro beats. Despite a strong close, in which Jackie recalls Pat Benatar on the rocker "Amplified," the sexiest moment here comes on a hidden track of studio goofs. If the band can stay that loose next time out, Jackie could be something to talk about.

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