In "Mango," Rachel Roberts moans about an "extra supersaturated juicy little spot," and seldom has passion fruit been this sexy. This year, the self-taught 21-year-old guitarist has been making noise in her native Akron, where she plays quiet suppertime sets every Monday at the Northside, a cozy blues spot. Like most compelling singer-songwriters, she's suffering through a long line of lousy lovers.
On her supple debut, Ripe & Juicy, Roberts plays solo, with occasional tambourine and bongo backing. In "The Mannequin," the limber-lipped singer gives an ultimatum to a dallying suitor: "She's got a real small waist and her mouth's sewn shut/ And she likes to spend your money on clothes/But she's got no heart, so who's the real rose?/The mannequin or me?" And while Roberts is the obvious choice, you can't help but hope he chooses the plastic girl -- we could use a few more songs like this.