Make Me Pretty is a plea, sometimes hushed, sometimes emboldened, from a tender heart and a gorgeous voice. Gay and albino, singer-songwriter Reg Vermue undoubtedly has a deep well of firsthand pain and sorrow to draw from. But even at his most vulnerable and exposed, Gentleman Reg never casts himself as victim or compromises his dignity.
While Make Me Pretty is definitely a coming-out album, the emotions Reg draws up in his songs are universal. Who, at some point, hasn’t wished they had someone else’s face, as Reg does with muted elegance in the title track? Or felt the pangs that come when chronic loneliness meets acute desire?
Like those of his labelmates in Royal City (whose rhythm section, incidentally, backs Reg on this album), Gentleman Reg’s songs are sparsely arranged yet never feel lacking. He’s able to bring as much out of as few instruments as possible. “Give Me The Chance To Fall” is a lazy-day reworking of the same two-chord progression that make the Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner”, the Velvets’ “Sister Ray,” and Cornershop’s “Brimful Of Asha” (plus countless others songs) so irresistible. Subtle touches, such as woodblock percussion on “The Three Most Important Girls” and Reg singing harmony with himself on “Telling You Is Something”, lift this beyond just another confessional singer-songwriter album.
Thanks to Gentleman Reg’s unforgettably beautiful voice and unwaveringly honest heart, Make Me Pretty transcends sexuality and pigmentation; it gets under the skin as an unflinching and moving document of a day/week/month/year in the life of a boldly beating heart.