ON HER FIRST three solo albums, Ohio's Marti Jones established herself as a new wave Linda Ronstadt, recording pleasant -- but hardly definitive -- pop interpretations of songs by Elvis Costello, John Hiatt, Richard Barone and Peter Holsapple. On her fourth album, "Any Kind of Lie," Jones and Don Dixon -- her husband, producer and guitarist -- co-wrote all but two of the 11 songs.
This is a big advantage for Dixon, because Jones is a much better singer than he is; her breathy, delicate crooning lends a new accessibility to his quirky sensibility (his songs sound like the forgotten B-sides of early-'60s singles). This new approach is not such a great advantage for Jones, for neither she nor her partner can write as well as Hiatt or Holsapple, much less Costello. The Dixon-Jones collaborations are clever and catchy, but they never resonate longer than the time it takes for them to play on the stereo.
Typical of the album is "I've Got Second Sight," a song whose perky power-pop hook is wasted on a pun (". . . but I've got no second wind") that doesn't really mean anything. The most attractive track is the harmony-laden plea of "Read My Heart," a thinly disguised rewrite of Hiatt's "The Real One" from Jones's previous album. The best writing can be found on Clive Gregson's "Second Choice," the tale of a male/female friendship destroyed by romance, but the effect is blunted by Dixon's perverse Dixieland arrangement. -- Geoffrey Himes
MARTI JONES --
"Any Kind of Lie" (RCA). Appearing Saturday at Georgetown University's Gaston Hall.