A deeply spiritual (without being explicitly Christian) writer with a lyrically precise songwriting style, and a rich, wise-sounding, and deceptively versatile alto voice, Carrie Newcomer draws from the simple and ordinary for her songs, and at her best, she outlines how the simple and ordinary are anything but that. Newcomer was raised Methodist, but her adopted Quaker faith has given her an intelligent and emotional landscape to move in, one that gives credence to the good, the simple, and the ordinary, and she does so across disciplines, as is the case with A Permeable Life. Produced by Paul Mahern, the album has been released in conjunction with a book, A Permeable Life: Poems and Essays, and with the names of poets Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver featured prominently in the press packet, it's obvious that Newcomer is attempting to create a broader platform for her writing, and it isn't just about songs anymore. No worries. This set is a fairly typical one from Newcomer, with tightly written songs that shine with the Quaker credo "'tis a gift to be simple," drawing depth and meaning from simple, ordinary things and events. "A Light in the Window" is a case in point. It's a bright, positive song about seeing a light in the window, about how we guide ourselves in our lives, what it is we need to keep an eye out for, how we see things. Newcomer looks outward as well. "Room at the Table" bounces along, a song of inclusive democracy, an American ideal still all too often ignored in these modern times. One of the best songs here, the moody, drone-tinged, and restless "Writing You a Letter," is about the simplest thing given weight by not being such a simple thing at all. The sound of A Permeable Life is warm and sparse, and yes, simple, by design.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett