Six spins of No Fairy Tale while cleaning my room is how long it took to find the Easter Eggs on the newest album from Lisa Loeb. But that egg hunt also revealed Loeb hasn’t changed one bit. She has aged beautifully — (just look at her skin, the image of perfection) — and she is still writing those introspective soft rock songs in her relatable way that grabbed ahold of girls in the ‘90s by their ponytails, bound them all together in a gigantic scrunchy, and then dragged them along for the next decade by their hair.
But that is neither here nor there because No Fairy Tale sounds nothing like Loeb’s previous work, excluding the lyrical content. Crunchy guitars and that other ‘90s chick rock sound — the one that nimbly dances around Riot grrrl, Alanis, and pre-sold-out Liz Phair — are the skeleton of the album, regrettably serving to conceal Loeb’s lyrical guts.
But Loeb isn’t responsible for the outdated, ill-suited production; co-producer Chad Gilbert is. Rather than achieving the Elvis Costello sound they were originally going for, or tastefully updating Loeb’s sound from, say, Cherries, Gilbert instigated an off-base punk/pop/rock production approach that sounds like what I imagine The All-American Rejects playing as Loeb’s backing band would sound like.
The strength in these tracks, however, lies within Loeb’s ability to wittily empathize with her audience and address issues and struggles with genuine compassion and understanding. Unfortunately, few feature the catchy hooks or melodies required to gather more ponytails in a giant scrunchy trap. Loeb gets a free pass on this one because she’s Lisa Loeb, but if given the option of listening to No Fairy Tale or her children’s album Camp Lisa, go with the latter.
Essential Tracks: N/A