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Pieta Brown

Shimmer – 2009 (Red House)

Reviewed by Jacquilynne Schlesier

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CDs by Pieta Brown

The daughter of Greg Brown, Pieta Brown is known for her rootsy blending of folk, rock, blues and country. Here, her usual musical style takes a back seat the lyrics of her new songs. It seems like a reasonable approach, given that Brown has a compelling sense of both poetry and narrative, and her songs are well-crafted little stories.

Recorded by producer Don Was, the tracks are stripped down to occasional guitar chords, production that lends honesty and intimacy to the project. It feels like coffee house folk - just you, a date, and a girl with a guitar. There are no fancy pyrotechnics to smother the emotion or shades of meaning in the songs.

But that doesn't mean they aren't smothered anyway. The problem lies in the fact that the vocals are frequently thin and sometimes incomprehensible. For a lyrically driven album, it can be remarkably hard to actually understand what Brown is singing. Plus, after just a few of the seven similar sounding tracks, the songs start to run together.

As a demo, Shimmer isn't half bad - there's enough of the bones of the songs to demonstrate their potential. But for an album, too much of that potential remains unrealized.