Yes, that Minnie Driver. She’s probably best known as the object of John Cusack’s affections in the excellent Grosse Point Blank and she won an Oscar nomination for her performance in the overrated Good Will Hunting – a fact rather overshadowed by the public meltdown of her relationship with Matt Damon. She gave intelligent, likeable performances in both films and since then, well there was… No, but I’m sure she was in…hmmm.
The cynical might suggest that it’s the downturn in her film career that has led her to the recording studio, following in the recent footsteps of actress Juliette Lewis, Angelina Jolie’s ex Billy Bob Thornton and the much-married Jennifer Lopez. And there has to be an element of truth in that. It’s doubtful Driver would be doing this if her career was in the same place it was a few years back, but to be fair to her she was singing with some success before her breakout role in Circle Of Friends came along.
Strip away the film star glitz and Everything I’ve Got In My Pocket is a really rather good debut. The opening title track is a dreamy, laid-back electronica-tinged affair, very mellow and a good introduction to Driver’s eclectic approach. She has a strong voice, pleasantly breathy – there’s no need to bury it in the mix. For a Brit she does tend to utilise one of those annoyingly mid-Atlantic accents though, a trait particular evident on the bluesy Home.
Backed by a band that includes members of The Wallflowers and Pete Yorn‘s band there’s a very American feel to much of the album. Lines like “taught me about Texas, liquor and life” are commonplace. That particular lyric features on one of the standout tracks, Fast As You Can, a tender love song that showcases the best qualities of her voice.
Driver certainly knows how to play to her strengths, second track Invisible Girl is a piece of catchy guitar-led pop and there’s a very Morcheeba-ish quality to So Well. Closing track Ruby Adeline is a suitably delicate fade out.
Even a cover of Bruce Springsteen‘s Hungry Heart is not quite as misjudged as yo u might expect, giving a refreshing twist to what has always seemed like an intrinsically masculine song.
Ultimately Driver’s debut is a solid enjoyable album; she’s a capable songwriter and vocalist though far from breathtaking. And she’ll next be seen on our screens in a big budget reworking of Phantom Of The Opera, a major production which may well reignite her film career. Of course this day job will mean she’ll have a sharper critical eye on her than most, but there’s enough good stuff on Everything I’ve Got in My Pocket to suggest that if Phantom isn’t a success she will definitely have something to fall back on.