Amy Speace's last album, "How To Sleep In a Stormy Boat," and its companion EP, "Same Old Song," brought Speace the best notices of her career and took her to an array of high profile festivals, including Mountain Stage, Music City Roots, the Philadelphia Folk Festival and the Kerrville Folk Festival.
All of which leads to "That Kind of Girl," Speace's latest. In many ways, it's an unassuming effort, with a predominance of pretty ballads ("That Kind of Girl," "One Man's Love," co-written with Ryan Culwell and Beth Nielsen Chapman respectively) and softly swaying pop songs that restrain the rhythm without varying the pace. The best songs of the set - the modestly assertive "Better Than This" and the slow, sultry moan of "Three Days" - provide a much needed respite, elevating the album into more compelling terrain.
That passive approach could be attributed to the presence of producer Neilson Hubbard, a musician and songwriter himself and an artist whose signature sound tends to take a hazy tone and airy atmosphere. In this case, it also denies the album the prerequisite punch needed to create a more emphatic impact. Speace's vocals - sometimes teasing, but always engaging - add character and charisma, but the songs don't allow her to weigh in with the verve and vitality that could connect her with the wider audience she so decidedly deserves.
That said, "That Kind of Girl" is still a strong album, and if Speace tends to downplay her delivery, she also shows a confidence that suggests less is more, at least in terms of delivering a good song. That of course necessitates exceptional material, and fortunately, this LP boasts that kind of quality in abundance. There are plenty of examples - any of the aforementioned songs certainly qualify. It's that kind of album and clearly Speace is, as the title suggests, that kind of girl, and, more importantly, that kind of star.