Radio-Ready, Willing And Able

The second major-label release from Austin, Texas, quartet Sister Seven is more evenly crafted than their last, 1997's This Is the Trip.

Opening with a heavy, synthesized wah-wah line that soon crashes into a wall of crunchy guitar, Wrestling Over Tiny Matters' first track, "Fallen Angel," strains to separate Sister Seven from their jammy, bar-band reputation.

Vocalist Patrice Pike takes risks with her sound and her phrasings, making hairpin turns, wild climbs and bluesy descents. On some songs, such as "Fallen Angel," it works nicely, and in other places it sounds forced.

The album's first single, "Under the Radar," sounds like a Melissa Etheridge song, any Melissa Etheridge song, and it's no coincidence — the album was produced by John Shanks, Etheridge's most recent producer and guitarist. The radio pop-ballad formula is stamped heavily onto much of the material, but at least it's done competently.

All of the bandmembers contribute to the songwriting, including guitarist Wayne Sutton, bassist Darrell Phillips and drummer Sean Phillips. The material mostly covers standard modern urban concerns: relationship woes, spirituality ("Fallen Angel"), violence ("Loaded") and the ongoing search for optimism (as on the raucous, romping "My Three Wishes").

But even the trite stuff is well-played and well-sung, and radio stations could do worse than to pick up on these songs.