• Idha
  • Melody Inn (Creation/TriStar Music) 1994 

Born in Stockholm, based in Oxford, England and devoted to vintage American country-rock (specifically Bobbie Gentry and Gram Parsons), singer/songwriter Idha Ovelius is a serious artist only in the unique Creation Records sense: while her pleasant music is camp, anachronistic, derivative and absurd, Idha’s ingenuous sincerity is nearly enough of a reason to believe in Melody Inn. Singing in clear, whispery English with a Scandinavian accent, Idha renders her own simple — OK, thoroughly feeble (“My heart is aching/For the land where I was born/My soul is crying/Lord, I feel so forlorn”) — originals over spare Anglo-country-rock backing by keyboardist Ian McLagan, pedal steeler Gerry Hogan and Ride guitarist (and Idha spouse) Andy Bell, among others. The album is wisely fleshed out with covers: “Red Balloon” (Tim Hardin), “From Me to You” (Janis Ian),”Hickory Wind” (Gram Parsons) and “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” (Primal Scream, and not the fabled Tennessee bluegrass group either, but her very own UK labelmates). Flimsy and listenable if you tune out the lyrics, Melody Inn is perfectly pointless, except for its chic anti-chic chic. Or something like that.

[Ira Robbins]