Robin Renee,
In Progress
(MŽnage a Music, 2000)

With her freshman release as a solo artist, In Progress, Robin Renee finds herself breaking new ground. This 33-year-old New Jersey native is both openly bisexual, and she is an African-American writing and playing rock 'n' roll music. (One would be hard pressed to name many African-American women in rock today.) Renee does not fit neatly into a niche, which presents a problem for the mainstream record labels. However, in spite of what some might see as two strikes against her, Robin was undeterred and has forged ahead with some truly unique music.

Renee does not write "lesbian" music (in her own words) but merely writes music about those emotions to which all listeners can relate. In Progress gives the listener a slice of real life, conveying honest emotions.

The thirteen songs on In Progress run the gamut from the straight out rock 'n' roll of "Empire" to the reflective folk sounds of the lovely "Butterfly Jar." One can detect traces of soul and reggae music as in the song "Spiritual Ink" and bits of the blues such as in "Salt Lake Mirror." Two of the standout tracks on In Progress are "For Today," a feel-good tune, and "Silent Partner" with a punk rock sound. Other songs include "I Could Love You," " Pennies and Perfume, " "Lyin' All The Time," "I Don't Wear Sweaters" and "Talking To Walls."

Robin Renee has given us a very promising start with In Progress. At every turn the listener will be surprised by the various influences contained in the songs. I will look forward to more to come.

[ by Robert Buck ]

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