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Victoria Vox - Victoria Vox and Her Jumping Flea Review

by Kevin Wierzbicki

When you think of ukulele music, do you picture Don Ho or some other Polynesian band leader getting down with a bunch of grass-skirted strummers? Well, really you should, because that is the four-stringed instrument's claim to fame. In fact, the word "ukulele" is Hawaiian for "jumping flea." Vox pays homage to the instrument's lineage by opening this disc with the old Gus Kahn song, "Ukulele Lady." The song is corny without a doubt, but Vox gives it a cute reading and Scotty Johnson of the Gin Blossoms plays some hot slide guitar riffs mid-song. The emphasis here is really on Vox's sweet voice, and don't take this the wrong way, but basically you forget that the uke is mixed up front. In other words, this is not a novelty album. Vox alternates original cuts like "My Darlin' Beau" and "Dreamin' 'Bout You" with standards "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World" which she works into a medley. With only her uke and cello accompanying, Vox has a surprisingly strong take on the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer." While the cello creates the song's ominous aura, Vox shows that her ax can stand up to some serious string banging. The song is also the only time that Vox comes anywhere near a "dark place" on the album---this music shines like the Polynesian sun.

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