Jen Elliot
"The Secret's Out"

(City Canyons Records 2003)Jen Elliot - The Secret\'s Out

In a press kit that included articles comparing singer/songwriter Jen Elliot to Christina Aguilera and Sheryl Crow and an 8 by 10 of Elliot in a tube top, it was obvious Jen Elliot's "The Secret's Out" was going to be tough to sell to Plug In.

With a voice like a higher pitched Anastacia, the American pop star only Europeans seem to know, Elliot presents an upbeat opener with "Move" and the slower R&B-ish "Empty Eyes." Elliot seems to focus on pop with songs, like "I Can't Concentrate" and the slower "Love Crazy," which are made up of minimal instrumentation, save for an acceptable guitar solo, allowing her voice to be the focus on the short verses that quickly get back to the chorus.

"High Wire" and the catchy and familiar sounding "Why Can't This Be A Love Song?," she take pop in a different direction -- mid tempo that does not necessarily have to have choreography (and hopefully does not). The album's title track, which has longer verses which allow Elliot to show a range of dynamics in her voice previously not shown, stands out. With a more bluesy feel on "Paint It" "“ which sees Elliot singing "Paint it green/Paint it red/Use the colors in your head/Use the browns and use the blues/A world with color you choose" "“ and "Curse on You," Elliot goes in a direction different than the first half of the album. She even introduces a darker sounding element to "Love and the Rebel" and "Pop Blues," which sounds exactly as the title suggests.

Elliot's songs do not showcase the belting vocals of Aguilera and are too pop-sounding to be Crow but they seem aimed at an older audience, perhaps adult contemporary or adult pop, than the Mickey Mouse Club pop stars. "The Secret's Out" does not offer Elliot's voice as much of a range as it could but shows her ability to adapt to slightly different genres.