A better-than-average writer with Portland roots is starting to make some rumblings in Michigan. On her latest, “Broken Mirror Baby,” chanteuse Alejandra O’Leary’s straightforward doo-wop rock is polished and well-designed, even for a “smaht” kid. An English major at Yale, O’Leary sometimes feels forcibly restrained, like there’s a John Keats in there clawing to get out and spill words willy-nilly.

O’Leary shows a knack for radio sheen with the opener “@ The Club.” The tune is a modern barfly’s lament, bright and catchy with an authentically human singalong chorus. Set highlight “On Your Dime” flashes some big Phil Spector harmonies and a clever premise that recalls gold memories someone else paid for. “When Will They Learn?” opens layer by layer, like clockwork Elvis Costello pop.

O’Leary’s songs work when she takes risks. But overall, on “Broken Mirror Baby,” she takes too few.

Kudos to O’Leary for fighting to bring her big hooks to life. On “Broken Mirror Baby,” the song ideas, and the players squeezing them for all the juice, are vitally consistent. At times, though, O’Leary suffers a sluggish diction, falling behind the beat like she was playing fluffy bunny in the studio at the time.

The talented vocalist and songwriter will enjoy a surge of confidence once she develops a more precise delivery, but for now, the songs are enough to carry the day.

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer who lives in Boston and Portland.