Ashlee Simpson

Ashlee Simpson. Wednesday, November 30, at E.J. Thomas Hall, Akron.

Ashlee Simpson
By proclaiming I Am Me, Ashlee Simpson, that product of the teen-pop machinery, is trying to recover from her meltdown on Saturday Night Live last year, when she walked offstage after a technical glitch revealed that she was lip-synching. Naturally, the move has invited hoots of derision from pundits tired of a marketplace saturated with oxymoronic "reality" entertainment. But this clean, short collection of self-penned "'tween pop" does prove that Ashlee still is what she is -- a less annoying Avril, who looks to the rock-and-roll styles of Courtney Love and Gwen Stefani instead of to the pure pop favored by Jessica, her moderately more telegenic and far less talented older sister.

But if her simple rock arrangements and occasional dance-music flourishes are still serviceable, the songs are generally less sassy -- and therefore less catchy -- than the hits from her 2004 debut, Autobiography. Chances are, that'll cost her. Since the whole Simpson clan is no savvier than those other TV Simpsons, maybe it's a bit much to expect more than discomfiture and self-pity in the wake of her SNL fiasco. But then, pop fans are even less forgiving than pop pundits.

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