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Julie Lee

Stillhouse Road – 2004 (Compadré)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Julie Lee

The term "singer-songwriter" has become almost an epithet to some in the last decade, synonymous with interminably introspective "what I'm feeling now" lyrics, backed by a monotonous solo guitar strum. Julie Lee, on the other hand, turns out to be another example of an encouraging trend of artists who can not only write intelligently and sing convincingly, but know how to arrange acoustic threads from country, bluegrass, folk and blues into a satisfyingly complete package as well.

Lee's vocals and lyrics - both of which range from haunting and peaceful to quirky and sharp - will inevitably invite a lot of comparisons, but two that come to mind are Laurie Lewis and Gillian Welch. Like Lewis, Lee's musical thoughts can be graceful and swirling, as on "Many Waters" and "Beautiful Night." And, aside from the fact that they've both written songs referencing stillhouses, i.e. Welch's "Tear My Stillhouse Down," Lee hones a dark, Welch-like edge on cuts like "James" and "Till The Cows Come Home."

Consistent from start to end, this disc will not wear out your "skip" button.