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In the liner notes of Mimi Holland's Simple Words, the first thanks goes to Eddie's Attic in Decatur, "where it all began." The venerable acoustic music club played host to Holland as she rose through the ranks of the open-mic scene around the same time John Mayer was raising eyebrows. Like Mayer before the majors came calling, Holland stands out as a diamond in the rough in the world of acoustic-based melodic pop/rock.

Her sweet cat's-meow vocals and pop smarts will draw inevitable comparisons to Sheryl Crow, but it doesn't take five writers to pen a hit for Holland (the way it does for Crow). Holland and partner Rocky Lindsley (who also drums) produced and co-wrote this six-song EP, and they have a salvo of potential hits at the ready. The songs here are well-crafted gems, taking cues from the likes of Crow, Liz Phair and Patty Griffin, but never coming off as too derivative. It's clear Holland is more than ready to hold her own. Infectious melodies carry the message of empowerment, longing, bitterness, betrayal and love. It's unapologetic pop at its finest.

So where does Holland fit in the music scene of 2003, when even Jesus hates Creed? She should take a cue from Mayer and stick to her independent guns. If she builds it, they will come. They will buy CDs and tell their friends, who will tell other friends. That's the way good music works these days. Then again, good music always has found its own way. Listening to Simple Words is like witnessing a star in the making before the star machinery kicks in.

Mimi Holland plays Smith's Olde Bar Wednesdays in January.

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