There's something reassuring about the traditional musical values—catchy vocal melodies, bright hooks, bouncy beats—that Nashville tunesmith Madi Diaz applies to her chosen form, which is hard to call anything but power-pop. It's nice to know this brand of chiming-guitar rock is still being made, and it's all the more fulfilling that Diaz and her band do it so well.
Diaz's winsome vocals add to the earnestness of such irresistible tunes as "Gimme a Kiss," "Johnny," "Nothing at All" and "I Know," all of which faithfully re-create that shiny '60s-by-way-of-the-late-'80s vibe that bridged the eras of the Beatles and Aimee Mann. Drums slap 4/4 dance rhythms while Diaz and co-writer/performing partner Kyle Ryan pile infectious riffs and enchanting choruses into miniature pop cathedrals—and if you wait until the final (bonus) track, you'll find dreamy pop nirvana in "Call It the Same."
Diaz also is known as an Americana artist, and it takes a while for her country and folk influences to emerge here. Her roots show best on "Time," which would nestle well between songs by Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin, and on "Heavy Heart," which balances sweet guitar architecture with country-style vocals on which Diaz sounds like all the Dixie Chicks at once. The sound is even more homegrown (but never rough-hewn) on the mostly acoustic front-porch reflection "If You Only Knew," which benefits from some elegant fiddle- playing.