BJ O'Malley

Sweet Baby Freaker (

Youngstown's sorely underappreciated BJ O'Malley occasionally turns in a last-minute opening set at House of Blues or the Beachland, opening for a twangy A-list act like Neko Case. And like Case, the romantically star-crossed chanteuse is too old-school country for the country establishment. She tried the transition to straight-up singer-songwriter on 2005's In Love and Decay. Now she's back, leading a dancehall-country band. And love's still treating her bad.

Sweet Baby Freaker is a reference to O'Malley at her worst -- a cop to her culpability in a losing streak of relationships. "I don't like you like I thought I did/Last night, I was really bored/I changed my mind," she recounts in "I Changed My Mind." On "Girlfriend," though, she's on the other side of rejection.

The disc has plenty of weepy ballads ("Do You See Me") and drum-driven rockers ("Dirty Ole Dog"). Her judgment's always off when it comes to men, but her quavering voice is always on when she's singing about them.