This new Nashville transplant strums an acoustic guitar, but its the piano and off-kilter rhythms that give her tunes such distinct character. While most singer-songwriters head to the confessional, McCarley uses her songs as a feisty pulpit for bold proclamations about the twists of modern love. Playful yet unflinchingly insightful, she proves how contemporary pop can push beyond contrived poses when commandeered by a sharp-tongued wordsmith. When, in the title song, she asserts that fathers are as faulty as ever at preparing their sons to deal with the opposite sex, she delivers the line with a twinkle in her tone. But the truth slices deep, as it does throughout her major-label debut, Love, Save the Empty.
Thu., Jan. 29, 9 p.m., 2009