It's both sad and surprising that Carrie Newcomer isn't better known to the masses. After 15 albums, all of which have caused critics to swoon and her devoted fans to proclaim absolute adoration, she's still regarded as, well, a newcomer... even though her career is well into its second decade and kudos have come from both tastemakers and contemporaries. However, what's especially confounding is the fact that she manages to make such a consistently credible showing without the benefit of reaping that recognition. Newcomer's songs are utterly enchanting, and her ability to create such mesmerizing music is clearly a triumph in itself.
Not surprisingly then, "A Permeable Life" is no exception. It's another wonderful record, and rather than finding Newcomer merely striving to equal past triumphs, it has her doing what she's always done best, that is, creating lovely, evocative melodies so breathtakingly beautiful they sound like she's tapping into timeless standards. Songs such as "Every Little Bit of It," "The Ten O'Clock Line," "A Light in the Window" and "Visitation" shimmer and glide courtesy of unerringly enticing arrangements that extend an instant embrace. Less is more, and with the exception of the jaunty vaudevillian shuffle of "Please Don't Put Me On Hold" and the stealth-like "Writing You a Letter," the delivery is both delicate and seductive.
Nevertheless, "A Permeable Life" seems a somewhat incongruous title for an album with such a firm emotional grasp. There's nothing ambiguous or unclear about these celebratory musings and the impact they leave on the listener. The bigger mystery is why an artist this talented hasn't achieved the big breakthrough she deserves.