Caroline Cotter doesn't have to depend on anything more than her sweetly pervasive vocals to make an emphatic impression. That's evident at the outset and becomes consistently clear throughout the entirety of "Home On The River," Cotter's sweetly beguiling sophomore set. A collection of songs that convey a wistful yet wilful sense of wanderlust, the music sweeps the listener along on the strength of her inherent folk finesse, a delicate delivery that combines quiet persuasion with astute observation.
That declaration of intent is clearly stated on opening track "Peace of Mind" and sustained with such songs as "When I Think of You," "1 4 3" and "Found," all of which resonate with poignancy and passion. At times, Cotter brings to mind the early Joni Mitchell, thanks to a caress that's poignant yet penetrating all at the same time. "Can't Stop the Waves" and "My Washroom" sound like English ballads plucked from traditional trappings, and yet when her voice soars into its upper registers, she liberates an inner authority that's just below the surface, one that was simply waiting for its chance to break free.
Ultimately, "Home on the River" is borne by its own quiet grace and calm, a record which all but begs the listener to lean in closely to fully soak up the beguiling beauty that's inherent in every note. When she closes the set with an a capella reading of Woody and Arlo Guthrie's sublime "My Peace," it's clear right then that the connection is complete. Today's folk scene has a new champion, one who encapsulates the sweetness, serenity and sophistication that has always made the genre so affecting in such a timeless manner. In that regard, "Home on the River" is an absolutely essential record.