Like Rufus Wainwright, Nellie McKay was born about thirty years too late. She may look like a winsome teenager on the cover of "Get Away From Me," but she's got the soul and grit of Ethel Merman, mincing her way through dr... more »awing room dramas and musical conflagrations with more subtlety, wit, and better personal politics than Eminen, but with similar results--most stunningly on "Sari," where she perfectly melds the ire of Missy Elliot with the goofiness of Moon Unit Zappa on this edgy rap song. McKay quickly changes personas becoming a torchy siren on her paean to domesticity "I Wanna Get Married," wearing her irony as lightly--and as transparently--as a see-through negligee. At nineteen, McKay has only scratched the surface of what she's capable of, veering from witty jazz, to edgy cabaret, to brash confessionals, and taking the listener on what certainly will prove to be a long, eccentric ride. --Jaan Uhelszki« less
Like Rufus Wainwright, Nellie McKay was born about thirty years too late. She may look like a winsome teenager on the cover of "Get Away From Me," but she's got the soul and grit of Ethel Merman, mincing her way through drawing room dramas and musical conflagrations with more subtlety, wit, and better personal politics than Eminen, but with similar results--most stunningly on "Sari," where she perfectly melds the ire of Missy Elliot with the goofiness of Moon Unit Zappa on this edgy rap song. McKay quickly changes personas becoming a torchy siren on her paean to domesticity "I Wanna Get Married," wearing her irony as lightly--and as transparently--as a see-through negligee. At nineteen, McKay has only scratched the surface of what she's capable of, veering from witty jazz, to edgy cabaret, to brash confessionals, and taking the listener on what certainly will prove to be a long, eccentric ride. --Jaan Uhelszki
"This is a totally terrific cd. The title seems an obvious jibe at Norah Jones' "Come Away with Me." I like Norah Jones' music, but Nellie McKay's cd has an energy and an eccentricity that are miles beyond. Maybe the best comparison is to Van Dyke Parks' "Song Cycle": "Get Away from Me" is another incredibly accomplished first record by a singer-songwriter-pianist who draws upon all sorts of musical influences to make songs that are completely distinctive.The songs that really stand out (after one day's listening): "David," "Manhattan Avenue," "Sari" ("sorry"), "The Dog Song," "I Wanna Get Married," "Won't U Please B Nice." I hear many influences in this music--reggae, Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones, "The Beach Boys Love You" (the loopiest B Boys album), and sixties pop in all sorts of ways. McKay's piano at the start of "Manhattan Avenue" evokes the theme from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," and the her brief piano solos here and elsewhere often suggest Thelonious Monk. Her lyrics are fast, sharp, and artfully rhyming: "i wanna get married / yes i need a spouse / i wanna nice leave it to beaver-ish / golden retriever / and a little white house." Her voice has incredibly flexibility and range. And in the words of Muddy Waters, "she's nineteen years old"! I hope Nellie McKay keeps making records for a very long time.If you're wondering about "explicit" and "clean": I bought the "explicit" version (the "everything on it" version, as the record store clerk called it). The Parental Advisory seems to be a matter of three or four well-chosen instances of the f-word (or variants thereof). I'd have no problem letting my teenaged children listen to it."
New, Old, Different
Liora Hess | Atlanta, GA USA | 08/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nellie McKay is so different. The first time I heard her sing on TV, I was spellbound by her talent. She's young, yet has a wisdom in her music that is well beyond her years. Her songs often sound silly and playful, but as often carry deeper ideological messages. Common themes: Her dislike of the bureacracy, the President, etc. Yet her music isn't so over-the-edge that you can't enjoy it or relate to it if you disagree with her.
Her songs range from playful, lively (the Dog Song), sometimes super-fast lyrics (David), to silky crooning jazz (Manhattan Avenue). If you want something both beautiful and different than what you're hearing on pop radio, this is worth checking out."
Get away, or not
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 03/08/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Nellie McKay shows in her charmingly-titled debut "Get Away From Me" that she is definitely one of the fresher musical voices out there. She has the energy and voice nailed down -- what her songs need is further maturity and a bit of songwriting polish. (Not to mention a rhyming dictionary)
In a sprawling two-disc album, McKay runs her full range of songs with rap (the gritty girlie-rap "Sari"), countryish pop (the amusing anti-male "It's A Pose"), punkish stuff ("Inner Peace"), classical instruments given a new spin (piano-based "Work Song"), poppish reggae ("David") and jazz ballads ("Won't U Please B Nice?"). What are the songs about? Blasting men, domestic dreams, politics, pets, masturbation and "my clonie."
At nineteen, McKay shows a lot of budding talent that will probably be a force to be reckoned with in future years. She's pretty solid here, but not as good as one senses she could be someday. Even so, she's more eclectic and inventive than many of the singers/bands out there.
Musically, she uses a mix of pop, rock, Tin Pan Alley, hip-hop, jazz, rap, country, and... oh, just about everything in modern music aside from metal. And in keeping with the wide range of musical types, there's an instrument for everyone, from cellos to accordians, from the violins and clarinet to the xylophone and Spanish guitar.
Her songwriting is a mix of the witty ("I wanna pack cute little lunches/for my Brady Bunches") and weird (the entire "Clonie" song -- hello, tortured rhymes!). In these, her youth makes itself pretty evident -- they can be simple and almost goofy at times. A joke on her part? Maybe. She obviously has inspiration and talent, and an appealingly edgy outlook, but needs to work on what she has in places.
McKay's voice is, of course, the centerpiece of the whole album. And it's a pretty good voice, very flexible and versatile, capable of being wispy one moment and throaty the next. Her rapping in "Sari," however, is a disappointment. She's no Eminem; she's more like Blondie vocalist Deborah Harry, whose rapping efforts haven't been too great either.
Nellie McKay's double-disc debut has a unique flavour that few singers have. Despite some chunks of musical inexperience and wobbly writing, "Get Away From Me" is amusing and brings back memories of music past, with a new spin."
An amazing debut!
fair_deal_guy | Prior Lake, MN USA | 04/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nellie McKay is brilliant. No 19 year old should have this much polish and verve. Her music--all original--is extremely strong and diverse (show tunes to rap) and she sells everything with a brassy gusto that is amazing to behold. I recommend this set to all my friends and if Nellie sells worldwide the way she's selling in Minnesota, she'll have a long and rewarding career. What a talent!"
Music Lover | Bay Area, CA | 01/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I heard about Nellie McKay in a New York Times review on the web, and I thought I would check out the music without anyone telling me what it would be like. Her debut album is amazing! Listening to the lyrics, I am continuously floored by the wit and catchiness of the music. The raps are chalk-full of amazing one liners, and each song has its own intimate character. The whole never gets stale, and I have listened to it at least 50 times."