Michele Ari is not cut from the same cloth as most of today’s female rockers. While guitar-strapped chicks these days seem to take their cues from either Courtney Love or Jewel, Ari seems indifferent to both. In fact, there’s nothing on 85th and Nowhere that suggests she even listened to either artist, as the dominant sound here is left-of-the-dial riff rock. Her setup is guitar-bass-drums but nothing that’ll bleed the ears. She’s not into cranking the amps; instead, as on the first tune My Sleeping Beauty, her and her rhythm section lock onto a groove and don’t let go. Less than two decades ago songs such as My Sleeping Beauty were common on college radio. And, no, that’s not a knock on her lack of originality as she’s summoning, not plagiarizing, what worked in the past. Although the music is dated by the memories they revive, it’s actually timeless.

Ari has a pleasing, pleasant voice. She has that girl-next-door quality to her singing that is appealing and was once considered sexy by campus DJs--probably still is. She reaches the highest of highs on Pretty, a brutally honest look at her insecurities that seems to have been ripped from a diary. This is a subtle, emotionally powerful record that is personal and addicting. Keep an eye out for this lady; she is going places."