When Meegan Voss tells off her unfaithful lover in “Don’t Say a Word,” you imagine her walking out the door all calm and collected. “I’m tired of your story,” she exhales, and while the bluesy backing track sounds a little like “Piece of My Heart,” Voss’s vocals are exactly the opposite of Janis Joplin’s feverishly forlorn wail. She’s the Dusty Springfield of the ’00s, except she started out in a late-’70s band called The Poptarts, who prefigured the girl-group revivalism of The Go-Gos but disbanded before that sound hit big.
Nevertheless, she still remembers what made radio so tasty when new wave was cresting — a bit of Merseybeat sass, some Velvet Underground chug, and melodies that cut through the static. Her partner, super-producer and session drummer Steve Jordan, has worked with a lot of heavyweights (Keith, Bruce, Chrissie, Dylan, Alicia) and understands that originality can’t be coaxed, so he allows Voss plenty of space around her cool voice and a beat that can’t be budged.
Essentially an album of singles, The Verbs’ debut is meant to be a return to basics, and while there is such a thing as being too eclectic (the country song sounds gratuitous, and one ska track is enough), experience counts for a lot when you’re after something this pure and simple.