It's easy to lazily compare the sound of female vocals to any other female vocals out there, but the truth is that women sound as different to each other as they do men's vocals. Thao Nguyen is no different.

With opener (and title-track) 'We the Common (For Valerie Bolden)', Thao pairs her soft, slightly raspy vocals with the twang of a banjo and a catchy beat. Valerie Bolden, for the fact-loving fans out there, is a prisoner serving a life sentence in California State Prison, whom Thao met during an advocacy visit to the prison. The two are still friends.

Lyrically, topics sometimes feel at odds with the upbeat, sun-kissed sounds of We the Common, but that just encourages you to listen even harder to what Thao and the Get Down Stay Down are trying to say. Even the more laid-back 'Holy Roller' still doesn't feel like it's matching Thao's feelings of displacement or frustration. That said, it's one of the early highlights of the album.

And then it's followed up by the collaboration with Joanna Newsom, 'Kindness Be Conceived'. Though probably not one of the best songs, its country-tinged style and stripped back instruments offer respite from the more hard-hitting songs such as the early 'City'.

The songs on We the Common jump from style to style, making it a difficult record to listen to from start to finish without feeling pulled out of the moment from time to time. They're all loosely folkish pop, with a definite emphasis on quirky, but they just don't flow in the way you'd like them to; you could probably get a better tracklisting order from putting it on shuffle.

Post-'Kindness Be Conceived' things go a bit weird – and not in the cute, quirky way you'd expect. 'The Day Long' is haunted by a moody bass line, and is ultimately unmemorable. 'Every Body' is trying to be sexy, as Thao sings "We get naked but not naked enough." It's all a bit strange. And then there's the cacophonic 'Move'. Actually, that one's weird in a good way, like a funny staggering drunk backed by a brass section. Meanwhile, the following 'Clouds for Brains' is the sad drunk that you feel a bit bad for.

Getting back on track, the last couple of songs on the album are back to decent quality. The drunk man has gone, replaced by the dazzling classic R&B riffs of 'Human Heart'. 'Age of Ice' rounds things off in a slightly meandering manner, but it's Thao's vocals that draw your attention in, rather than any of the instruments. We the Common is a good album. It suffers from a few problems, but then so do a lot of records. If you're looking to put a spring in your step, there's plenty here to help you out.