Copyright 1996 The Press Enterprise Co.


February 24, 1996 Saturday ALL ZONES


LENGTH: 345 words

HEADLINE: Lively or sad, Mann sings with a 'different' lyricism

BYLINE: Cathy Maestri, The Press-Enterprise



Aimee Mann doesn't have one of those exquisite, girly, sensuous or glass-shattering voices.

She sounds a little plaintive, a little vulnerable, intimately confidential in a cynical sort of way.

At the first of two shows at the Roxy on Thursday night Mann's voice served her well, a firm anchor for an array of pop melodies.

Backed by an electric guitarist, bassist, drummer and keyboardist Patrick Warren, Mann played a worn acoustic guitar.

The finishing touches and elaborate craftsmanship from her most recent album, "I'm With Stupid," weren't always there, yet the live dynamics, inventive guitar shadings and Warren's work didn't leave songs wanting.

Melodies ranged from bright and lively to introspectively sad.

Mann took a perverse pride in her lyrical bent.

"Yep, it's official - this is the most depressing song I've ever written," she said to introduce "Par for the Course," in which she laments, "I don't even know you anymore. "

During her "second-most depressing song," "4th of July," she sang through clenched jaw.

But Mann - clad in pink vinyl pants a shade south of Pepto-Bismol held up by a wide white belt and topped with a wispy, bright flowered shirt - clearly doesn't take herself too seriously.

She asked the crowd about her appearance on "The Tonight Show" and whether she was justified in asking one of her band members to kill fellow guest Richard Simmons.

The hour-long set (Mann complained of being tired and still faced another show) focused on the former 'Til Tuesday singer's solo career, including a few songs from her previous album, "Whatever. " Mann bravely opened with a brand-new number and encored with another, "How Am I Different? " The song, with a gorgeously sad hook, certainly deserves to wind up somewhere - perhaps a soundtrack.

She's had good fortune that way.

Her set included "That's Just What You Are," the hit from a "Melrose Place" collection, a jangly adaptation of classic pop.

Mann even hopscotched around a little on "Choice in the Matter. "