So it turns out Lisa Loeb is a Hello Kitty fan. Passing the record store racks, Hello Kitty jumps out at you from the cover of Hello Lisa, Loeb's latest release, and, after opening the disc case, there's the Japanese cartoon feline again, just as she would be from the countless sticker books Sanrio produces. Ultimately, the homage is there, but as it turns out, Hello Kitty infused the music this is as well.
Now, don't worry - Ms. Loeb has not produced the soundtrack to Hello Kitty's Hot Cocoa Party, but, as probably Loeb recognizes, she shares some similarities with Hello Kitty, in general and on Hello Lisa.
For example, let's look at Loeb's lyrics. While I'm not accusing Loeb of plagiarism, lings such as "I like things that are so good" and "wondering where I'll be on my birthday," from the track "Underdog," sound like direct Hello Kitty quotes. Of course, the pop nature and sing-song quality of the entire album lend itself to that Hello-Kitty feel. In "You Don't Know Me" for example, we end with whistling, and nearly every song on Hello Lisa is reserved acoustic or (for a change) electric guitar over keep-the-beat drums, with Loeb's voice the focus. She rarely ventures into a scream, but her voice carries its weight with her whispers.
To get analytical here, it's not as though Loeb's produced a cartoonish album. In fact, this is a very sophisticated offering in the Loeb tradition. And perhaps just as Hello Kitty's small black eyes say nothing and also say a whole lot about what emotions lurk within, so does Loeb's bespeckled gaze and as an extension, so does her music. Such as in "The Way It Really Is" Loeb offers her feelings: "Maybe we're just a picture in my head…Maybe I don't want to see it…the way it really is." Yet despite this sadness lurking behind the lyrics and music, there's a sweetness that permeates both. Sweet, yet burning - kinda like…hot cocoa?
Catherine E. Galioto is a Copy Editor / Columnist. Contact her at msmatildarockzone.com.