Josie Cotton

  • Josie Cotton
  • Convertible Music (Elektra) 1982  ([digital] Kitten Robot) 2020 
  • From the Hip (Elektra) 1984 
  • Frightened by Nightingales (Roxco) 1994 

Josie Cotton’s debut album, with the exception of one dumbly offensive number (“Johnny, Are You Queer?”), is really good ’60s-derived ’80s California pop, powered by a subtly solid band and spiced up with exactly enough atmospheric organ. Cotton has a strong, expressive voice that suits the material (mostly hers, some written by producers Bobby and Larson Paine) just fine, especially on the bouncy “He Could Be the One” and a cover of the 1962 Exciters’ hit, “Tell Him.”

Cotton offers another sophisticated come-hither look on the cover of From the Hip; the music is pretty much a repeat engagement of the first LP as well, although not as creatively successful. “Jimmy Loves Maryann” leads off the record and is its best number; elsewhere, intrusive rock moves muddy the pop clarity, although not enough to be fatal. Cotton has a great voice, but she’s totally subservient to production and songwriting; here, with fewer of her own songs and a baring of increased commercial intentions, she gets a second-rate assist.

[Ira Robbins]