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Evie Ladin Band

Float Downstream – 2010 (Evil Diane Music)

Reviewed by Jacquilynne Schlesier

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CDs by Evie Ladin Band

The solo debut of The Stairwell Sisters' Evie Ladin from Oakland, Cal. bursts out of the gates with the fast-picked and slow-sung I Love My Honey. Lyrically, it's a straightforward song, and one of only three Ladin didn't write herself; the depth of the track lies in the interplay between Ladin's banjo and the backing rhythms provided by her husband and producer Keith Terry.

Other songs focus on different elements. In the title track, Ladin's sparkling vocals slide around a much simpler melody, evoking quiet sadness. Dance Me pairs Ladin's most autobiographical lyrics with a heartfelt performance, as she explores the realities of a marriage - everyday squabbles that can't be allowed to overshadow the love and commitment in the union. Home From Airy offers a more traditional string band sound, but is a thoroughly modern song.

Like many contemporary folk albums, this one covers a lot of stylistic ground, ranging from straight country (One of These Days) to blues (Mistreated Mama) and zydeco (Mardi Gras). Despite the variety, Ladin never leaves the impression that she's a pretender to any style. She attacks each with equal ferocity, and while her take isn't married to tradition, it isn't merely modern pastiche, either.

"Float Downstream" feels effortless, offering a delightful blend of traditional styles with contemporary sensibilities. It's a compelling listen from start of finish.