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Juliana Hatfield - Made in China

Vaguely Appealing Angst - Released 09/05 on Ye Olde Records

Juliana Hatfield is an artist who has never been averse to the idea of embracing the dark, confusing, and chaotic aspects of life. Hatfield achieved a brief taste of commercial success with her sophomore effort <i>Become What You Are</i>, an album that had a number of catchy tracks that resonated for a broader audience. But, commercial success has by and large been elusive to Ms. Hatfield.

<i>Made in China</i> is Juliana's latest effort. It's an album that contains a multitude of emotions from bitterness over her shelved album <i>God's Foot</i> to bewilderment over her all too fleeting commercial success. With lyrics such as, 'What the fuck? It's a miracle I'm even here.' The aforementioned lyrics come from the aptly titled track, "What Do I Care". Hatfield's career frustrations seem to be the undercurrent of <i>Made in China</i>.

It's no small irony that in an era when female musicians seem to only truly become marketable when they get implants, prance around in scantily clad outfits, or otherwise sell their sexuality that <i>Made in China's</i> album cover is a picture of Hatfield's naked torso and a brief glimpse of the curve of her breasts. Hatfield is all too aware of exactly what has limited her career.

Truth be told, <i>Made in China</i> is not a bad album. But, it's not the stuff legends are made of either. It's a fairly straightforward darkly infused guitar assault. Complemented with some clever lyricism, there are a few tracks that work well. The aforementioned "What Do I Care" and the darkly comical "Going Blonde" are two of the standout tracks.

But, <i>Made in China</i> becomes repetitive about halfway through the album and Hatfield's continued frustration and confusion is ultimately not that compelling. While I'm not suggesting Hatfield go down the path of sexing up her image as many of her peers have to achieve success, perhaps a little creative guidance would have helped her cause on this album.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars