In some ways, Heather Nova is more talented than many of her female singer/songwriter contemporaries. She has an appealing voice, strong lyrics, and memorable melodies – that is, when she delivers. Unfortunately, many of her albums are uneven, with Nova delivering the goods as often as she misses the mark. The best moments on her second album, Oyster, rank among her very best work, demonstrating that she can pull off ballads, guitar pop, and hard rock with equal aplomb. The rest of the album isn't so much bad as it is bland, offering lesser versions of the good stuff. Certainly, Nova makes Oyster worth exploring – it's just a little frustrating that the entire album doesn't deliver on the promise of its best moments.
Boasting big, bold pop production that suggests the anthemic-but-personable sound of Natalie Imbruglia, Siren bursts out of the speakers with a giddy rush of emotion. But Heather Nova's not one to wail stridently like some Alanis-come-lately; instead she favors a breathy, delicate style that's nevertheless strong enough to ride comfortably atop the layers of acoustic and electric guitars. (In fact, it's Nova's own guitar that's at the heart of most of the arrangements here.) Throughout Siren, Nova utilizing an intriguing catch in her voice, and ultimately, it's Nova's unique vocal style and winning pop sensibilities that make Siren work as well as it does, doing double duty as substantive singer/songwriter statement and perfect pop-radio product.