Kirsty MacCall | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Kirsty MacCall

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Kirsty MacColl has never really made an impact in America despite some fine songwriting ("They Don't Know" was a worldwide hit for Tracey Ullman), a terrific power-pop debut (Desperate Characters, in 1981), and her association with artists like Billy Bragg and the Pogues (MacColl's cover of Bragg's "A New England" was a major English hit, and her dulcet warbles combined with Shane McGowan's wasted drawl on "Fairytale of New York" to create one of the Pogues' finest recorded moments). In the years since Desperate Characters her work has been checkered: her lyrics (she tends to write with guitarist collaborators like Mark E. Nevin or Johnny Marr), which range from rather light pop poesy to attempts at gritty, Stones-like tableaux, don't always work, and she doesn't always command the best work of her collaborators. That said, it has to be conceded that her ringing voice remains unmistakable, and when its authority is combined with a worthy tune, as in "Soho Square" on the new Titanic Days, the result can be extremely pleasurable in a pop sort of way. It's possible that this weekend's show, if leavened with enough creative covers, might produce similar feelings. David Gray opens. Saturday, 7-30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 929-5959 or 559-1212.

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