For a brief moment in the early '90s two of Orlando's best voices, Steve Burry and Liz Larizza, were in the same band, the Beat Me Ups. When they folded, Burry formed My Friend Steve while Larizza moved on to Wellville. Playing local coffeehouses and worshipping Joni Mitchell, Larizza developed a folk sound that forms the basis of the eight songs on "Happier Girl."
The band does a nice job fleshing out the songs, which on first listen sound like cheerful pop. And Larizza's catchy melodies and exquisite voice carry the album. But in songs like "Home" and the title track there's an undercurrent of regret and longing that gives these songs resonance. The slightly overdone "Serial Killer" focuses on physical rather than emotional danger, and the gorgeously spare "Heaven Help Me" relays psychological frailty. Deceptively complex and beautifully melodic, "Happier Girl" should carry Wellville on to bigger and better things very quickly.
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