Singer-songwriter Beth Thornley is definitely someone who marches to her own beat. Even so, she shows a number of musical influences that people can detect in the songs from her latest recording Wash U Clean. Whether Thornley does it knowingly or subliminally, there is a soft, wavy flutter in “Still Can’t Hide” that is reminiscent of The Beatles, and the ’60s stylish go-go grooves of “You’re So Pony” have a party-pogo bounce equated with the music of the Austin Powers movies that revived the ’60s during the ’90s.
Thornley oscillates between the avant-pop realm of Regina Spektor in the title track and the mellifluous riffs relatable to Missy Higgins in “What The Heart Wants”. Thornley shows many sides to her personality in her songs which keeps the album moving. Her lyrics have a pensive voicing and often take on a self-reflective tone like in “Bones” when she tells, “Someday they’re find my bones under your bed / Though I’m not dead… Someday they’re find your heart under my chair / I’ll pretend it’s not there… It’s not your fault / It’s a poison well / But it’s still your fault / Because you keep drinking there.” She uses symbolism to describe the darker emotions of being in a relationship, and leans on the guitar as the melodic instrument of choice, using the steel strings to color in a majority of the songs while putting subtleties of flouncy strings and expressive piano keys. The bubbly country strut of “A To Z” puts a lively tilt on the album that counterbalances the sullen tone of “Everyone Falls” and the folk-pop spin stitched into “Never Your Girl”.
Produced by Rob Cairns, Wash U Clean shows originality and similarities to a number of Thornley’s folk-pop brethren. Her efforts are centered on performing the kind of songs that she likes which falls into a modern pop niche. She knows what she likes and moves to the beat already bouncing in her head.