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Picks and Pans Review: Fountain of Youth

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Wendy MaHarry

On her kaleidoscopic second record, MaHarry all but shucks the sprouts-and-sandals, neofolkie persona of her 1990 debut. The 27-year-old singer, songwriter and pianist has reinvented herself as more of a radio-friendly Sensitive Artist.

With only a couple of wrong turns, the gamble pays off. MaHarry’s talent lies mainly in her sweet but forceful vocals and her ability to snag pleasing melodies out of thin air. She begins pensively with “Don’t Let My Heart Break,” using piano lines that fall like gentle rain. Then she strikes a pop-rocker pose and emerges as a buoyant cross between Stevie Nicks and the Divinyls’ Christina Amphlett, with a hint of Chrissie Hynde too.

Her new eclecticism can be jarring. “How Do I Get Over You?” borders on bubble gum, and “Until Now” borrows the feel of John Lennon’s piano intro from “Imagine.” But for the most part, MaHarry’s apparent desire to sell more records is backed up by genuine emotion and polished craft. (A&M)