(Real World, 2002)
I saw Pina open for the Indigo Girls in London twice this year. I say saw because the sound was so poor during the opening act that it was difficult to hear her vocals. However, the little I heard was intriguing, her stage presence was seemed earnest, and the fact that flyers scattered about the venue advertised that her soon-to-be released debut solo CD was on Peter Gabriel's Real World label made me want to seek out more from this opening act.
Born in Austria, Pina Kollars, who apparently just goes by her first name, now resides in Ireland. Neither country is particularly represented on Quick Look.
Pina is a singer-songwriter who seems to want to lean more towards rock, although her songs sound more indicative of folk. With a voice reminiscent of Melanie's, she takes a hard gravel road through confessional-style songs of love and loss.
Although she and her ex-husband are friends now, their break-up was responsible for some bitter writing, as demonstrated in "I Loved the Way," the opening track, which probably is the most radio friendly. It also is the about the most well-written song on the album in terms of demonstrating her voice. It's not that the others are extraordinarily weak; they just don't show off her voice as distinctly. The second song on the album, "On a Day Like Today," has a strong chorus, but its verses make her sound too much like just another girl with a guitar. The same thing happens on "The Flight." Her voice has to wait for the chorus in order to take flight (no pun intended). Her vocals soar along with the guitars, Mellotron strings and cello on the chorus, but it labors through the verses.
Real World's PR refers to her voice as being feline; unfortunately, while it purrs nicely on the crescendos, it growls during the more pedestrian parts.
It's not that the subject matter is weak. "Bring Me a Biscuit," about the birth of her daughter, juxtaposes such joy with the knowledge that "birth and death are close brothers." It's just that it often feels as if Pina's voice is yearning to be free. "Debt Song" starts to release it, but it doesn't go far enough.
Despite these problems, the songs started to grow on me after a few listens. However, while Quick Look is a good start, Pina really needs stronger material that will allow her voice to catch those listeners who otherwise may only give her music a quick glance.
[ by Ellen Rawson ]