***; SHARA NELSON, “What Silence Knows” ( Chrysalis/ERG )
A trademark of the Pet Shop Boys is singing melancholy lyrics to perky dance beats, and they did it better than anyone until Nelson came along with this impressive debut solo album. The bouncy tempos add a strange tension to such songs as “Pain Revisited” and “One Goodbye in Ten,” which tell depressing tales of broken relationships. Her ballads, including “Inside Out” and “What Silence Knows,” are particularly gloomy. The heartache throbbing through these songs is magnified by Nelson’s sorrowful wail. If you’re feeling low about a rocky relationship, this album--intense, well-written (by Nelson in collaboration with others) and crammed with insights--makes a good companion.
New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).