We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

If you’ve finally broken the enchanting spell of elfin-eyed Natalie Imbruglia, don’t look now—the next imported exotic beauty has already arrived to replace the Australian soapsud. Twenty-one-year-old singer-songwriter Bic Runga is Columbia Records’ Miss New Zealand 1998. She’s touching down in D.C. on her way to the steadily ballooning Lilith Fair and hot on the platform heels of her debut album, Drive; her hobbies include shopping for pseudo-vintage clothing, dramatic eye-shadow application, and mussing her hair just so. There’s substance under the surface, however—besides singing, Runga also produced, played a variety of instruments, and wrote all of the songs on the eerily sparse, acoustic-sounding album. Drive, released in the U.S. just last week, has allegedly already gone quadruple platinum in Runga’s native New Zealand. The limited likelihood of actually selling 4 million copies in a country with only 3.5 million people in no way detracts from the album’s merits. Drive consists of eleven simple songs that center on Runga’s powerful but controlled voice and highly personal lyrics. She’s cool and cerebral, speculating on relationships that are fiery but flawed and inevitably finite, singing matter-of-factly, “I know it’s time/it’s suddenly strange, I can hardly complain/I’m down the stairs and I’m out the door.” If you fall for Runga’s voice and visage while she’s here, her lyrics are what will stay with you when she’s gone. At 10 p.m. Friday, July 31, at the Metro Cafe, 1522 14th St. NW. $5. (202) 518-7900. (Neil Drumming)