An overdue anthology surveying Carrie Newcomer's last 12 years on Rounder Records, "Kindred Spirits" provides an apt introduction for those as yet unfamiliar with Newcomer's ample talents as both a singer and songwriter. Adding a pair of exclusive live tracks to entice the completist is a wise move, but the previously released material contained herein provides the essential entries. Taken in tandem, these 19 tracks spotlight the work of an artist worthy of wider recognition, but sadly bereft when it comes to the mass acclaim that's long been her due. It's a bitter irony that even with this ample body of work, her last name still defines her status among the populace as a whole.
Truth be told, it's hard to exaggerate how effectively she conveys the album's breadth of feeling, and in sampling songs like The Speed of Soul, Breathe In Breathe Out, There Is a Tree, I Do Not Know Its Name and If Not Now, it's obvious that these lovely melodies find most adjectives falling far short. Given the support she garners from the kindred spirits alluded to in the title - like-minded artists Mary Chapin Carpenter, Krista Detor and Alison Krauss, among them - Newcomer's clearly achieved the respect of her peers. Yet, despite the delicacy of her delivery and obvious emotional embrace, Newcomer never allows herself to linger in the shadow of her colleagues. Happily, all attention falls precisely where it should - on Newcomer herself. Those that haven't taken note up until now may wonder - as well they should - why Newcomer has escaped notice up until now.
Flushed with grace, craft and conviction, "Kindred Spirits" will hopefully bring Newcomer the belated attention that's eluded her for so long. Suffice it to say, she ranks among the finest singer/songwriters operating in Americana environs these days, and that alone is sufficient reason to make this set an essential acquisition.