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Matraca Berg

The Fields – 2011 (Dualtone)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Matraca Berg

Matraca Berg's new studio album is not so much a country project as it is a musically varying collection with a noticeably decided sense of place. The feeling of knowing where one belongs is expressed with the piano and strings ballad A Cold, Rainy Morning In London In June, where Berg truly feels like a homesick tourist, and also comes out during Oh Cumberland, a song about a famous Southern river that continually calls her home. These are highly personalized songs from the woman that won a Country Music Association Song of the Year award for Strawberry Wine.

Here, Berg not only gives listeners a glance into this songwriter's soul, but she also stretches out musically, too. For instance, the spiritual South of Heaven has a distinctly Daniel Lanois-esque vibe, which leaves Berg sounding a lot - and in the most positive way - like Emmylou Harris. This album also features You and Tequila, a song she co-wrote with Deana Carter that was a hit for Kenny Chesney. The title track references her grandparents' Wisconsin dairy farm. Once again, a physical location provides Berg's musical inspiration.

There are no wasted words or notes on "The Dreaming Fields." It's a lot like the lasting impression left by a memorable night's dream where every single detail counts.