One reason Cigarettes & Housework is so appealing from a reviewer’s standpoint is that Pete Townshend (yes, that Pete Townshend) is a guest. Rachel Fuller is virtually unknown, but the great Who-meister has chosen to appear on her debut. Unfortunately, Fuller’s warble-y voice and piercing delivery on the eponymous opening track guarantee that the only question reviewers will be left asking is, “Why on Earth did Townshend want to be associated with this poo?”
My guess is that he was returning the favor; Fuller, a classically trained pianist who’s worked with the likes of the London Chamber Orchestra, orchestrated some of Townshend’s “Lifehouse Chronicles” rock opera. Townshend can now consider the favor returned, and then some.
Fuller is a Johnny-come-lately to the strong-woman-songwriter movement. She’s seemingly trying to be a tough broad who appeals to the trailer-park country set as well as lonely urban women looking to reconnect with their “roots.” However you want to sell it, it’s still bad.
Her lyrics aren’t terrible — indeed, they’re rather nuanced and sophisticated — but her voice is Geddy Lee in its timbre. You’re either going to love it or hate it, and my guess is most people are probably going to opt for the former. Unless, of course, teenage fans of Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan need something new to listen to when they hit menopause.