Anya Marina

From the outside, pretty women appear to have the world by the tail, no matter how tough the overall circumstances may be. If the economy is in the shitter (familiar to all these days), leave it to the pretty girls to have better chances than most to be okay in the end - snagging jobs, or at the very least never having to pay their bar tabs when they're out drowning any kinds of sorrows they may have in their unsuccessful job search. And they're attractive. It's always the better way to go if one ever has the choice. Yes, the pretty girls have attributes that just can't be taught or even bought. You either are or you aren't. San Diego singer-songwriter Anya Marina is a pretty woman, but she's here to set the record straight with her clouds and a darker than would be expected purview. Her latest album, "Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II" is the equivalent of the line that knockout actresses and musicians, models and everyday, standard beauties give to anyone who will listen: The looks don't go all that far. Don't let them fool you. It's not all roses and cherries on top of ice cream sundaes around here. They're often so intimidating - these lovelies are -- in their fair complexions and their exquisite bone structures, their long, melty legs and lascivious curves that men choose not to approach them, certain that they'll be embarrassed into a mess in front of their bros. They couldn't live with themselves if they - not the most eligible bachelor in the room some of them - made a play for the lady everyone else wants to take home and got shot down like a clay pigeon, shattered into a thousand pieces and humiliated beyond what's able to be stomached by someone with balls and a man card. Marina shows that this undercurrent of woe can be warm though. It actually sounds a little like the lesbian bummers that Tegan & Sara seem to go through every chance they get, those magnets for the unfortunate circumstances and the "I wouldn't like me if I met me," thoughts, those Marina isn't so cavalier in her sad assessments. She's more of the cuddly in disappointment sort, turning the feeling into something that is still unquestionably sexy and disarming, as if there might be discouragement in the pudding, but there's still a lot of power and influence there as well. It's as if nothing's going to take that away, no matter how dark the skies become and how gray the forecast may brew. This is still a seduction, after all, and it is a seduction by all accounts. Marina still begins the album with the line, "Bending spoons with my mind/Manifesting men of all kinds in my spare time," and it's as if we're thrust into her version of make believe and these manifestations are getting posed like ragdolls, the efforts of her influential mind, making this fluid and malleable situation. And perhaps that's the way that she sees as the best chance for permanence, for stability - complete control, of which no one's ever found. And so continues the grind and the tolerable dramas. There is a lot of the slipping out of her fingertips on the record - as if the seduction is still very green, as if the results are yet to be seen sometime in the unforeseen future. Who knows when that will be. The seduction, like all tricky seductions, will drag on and on. It can be a very enjoyable process as Marina plainly shows us.