ARLENE BISHOP Cut A Man's Heart Out (Blare!) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The first thing you notice about local singer/songwriter Arlene Bishop is her voice: creaky, faded at the edges and somehow old beyond her years. It's not conventionally beautiful -- in glaring contrast to the diva moans and vocal contortions that stand in for talent on shows like Popstars -- but there's something about its worn-out, aching quality that's genuine and sweetly affecting, like finding the perfect pair of vintage jeans in a thrift store. Her thoughtful vocals are offset by original, well-crafted backdrops, from the sultry bluesy lurch of the title track to the barely there finger-picked whisper and ghost-howl embellishment of Arctic Wolf. Arlene Bishop performs as part of the Bluebird North showcase at Hugh's Room Friday (February 28).