Vocal restraint may be easy on the throat, but anyone who has a heart inevitably reaches the shouting stage. Linda Perry, ex-singer for Four Non-Blondes, spends more than her share of time there. On the Bay Area musician’s solo debut, her husky vocals creep across dirge-like arrangements, building passion: You can practically hear sweat dripping on “Knock Me Out,” a duet with ’60s psychedelic-rock queen Grace Slick. But Perry nicely balances that sort of output with the relatively temperate mood of songs like “Taken” and “Machine Man,” which are so delicate and lovely that the slightest San Francisco breeze could blow them away.
“Am I getting too deep?” Perry wonders in several heavier moments. Too deep, perhaps, to rule the Top 20, as her former band did with its 1993 international hit single “What’s Up?” But in this era of angry young women with jagged little pills, Perry stands out because she turns her ugly experiences into such beautiful music. (Interscope)