Nellie McKay: Pretty Little Head


“It’s been a long time coming” coos Nellie McKay on double album Pretty Little Head and you have to admire her honesty. Let’s face facts: after three release dates for this follow up to 2004’s Get Away From Me had come and gone, you’d have been forgiven for giving up on her. But McKay hadn’t given up on you and, split with her record company notwithstanding, Pretty Little Head has reared its head and the results are predictably poignant.

Each disc shimmers with a soulful, sensual quality and features duets with k.d. lang and Cyndi Lauper. Clearly, these girls just want to have fun. McKay’s opening salvo is to effortlessly rock and roll between hard edged pop  (‘Cupcake’, ‘There You Are In Me’) and a looser, more fluid style such as ‘Yodel’ which, you imagine, was heard by new kid on the block Lily Allen who would have made copious notes before burying the record deep in her consciousness as well as her bedroom. The second disc keeps the pace going but delves even further into her mindset with those – by now, infamous – thoughts on cruelty to animals (‘Columbia Is Bleeding’) and family (‘Mama & Me’). It’s fair to conclude that she probably doesn’t need the support of a major label – these songs were made for iTunes as no mainstream radio station would dare play these languid, lush vignettes more in keeping with Broadway than the Top 40. And what with McKay’s recent foray into theatre (alongside Lauper, no less), let’s hope that the next act arrives considerably quicker than this one.

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