The Laziest Girl in Town
ELIZABETH MCQUEEN certainly isn’t afraid to try new things. When her first post-college jobs didn’t pan out, she opted to give music a try. With little experience leading a band, she moved from Maryland to Austin and assembled a group to showcase her brash, exuberant pub rock. Like her hero Elvis Costello, McQueen brandished her attitude and spectacles proudly. Yet after two albums, she took another left turn, accepting a gig singing with western-swing superstars Asleep at the Wheel. She settled in with ease among Texas music royalty and even toured with Willie Nelson, an experience she dubbed “singer school.” After the experience of taking her infant daughter on the road convinced her that she could pretty much do anything, she put together the surprising THE LAZIEST GIRL IN TOWN (Freedom), a sophisticated session of swing and bossa nova, in the mode of Ella Fitzgerald or Peggy Lee. McQueen’s tenure with the Wheel and Willie has clearly paid off. On her rock albums, McQueen was a solid if not particularly expressive singer; here, she’s lying back, bending pitches, and gliding through challenging material with impressive ease, inhabiting tunes by Cole Porter, Dan Hicks, and Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt, as well as effervescent originals like “Mind of Men” and “You’re to Blame.” The corny, fifties-era production might alienate some, but McQueen’s music has always been about fun. And on beautifully arranged ballads like “Anyone But You,” her singing graduates to the sublime.