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Elana James (Snarf, 2007)

Elana James

Reviewed by Don Armstrong

Elana James (nee Fremerman) has the kind of misfortune anyone would welcome. Her longtime trio, Hot Club of Cowtown, was touring with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan when the band broke up. Soon, though, came offers to play on Nelson's next album and to tour with Dylan. Now comes her solo debut, and while the events of the last two years leave traces in James's music - most obviously with the inclusion here of a Dylan original, "One More Night"- the HCC sound lives in James's violin and voice.

For most, that will be good news. James's throwback music is sprightly and enjoyable. Brilliant? Well, no. Her vocals are a mere complement for the instrumental work, and even her violin tends to blend in. The mood is the thing here, but that is fine and dandy. One almost expects Curly might come riding up in his surrey at any moment, except, of course, that this is swing and string, not Rodgers and Hammerstein. James gains some distance from the HCC sound on "All the World and I," which she wrote after reading about the Carter Family. A.P., Maybelle and Sara would be pleased, too. (Box 685335, Austin, TX 78768)

CDs by Elana James

Black Beauty, 2015 Elana James, 2007

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