American Avatar is an eccentric folk-blues release, some tracks (but not all) featuring Lisa Kindred's extremely low, sultry vocals; Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldaur and Bruce Langhorne were among the supporting players. It's extremely relaxed (to the point of sluggish), basic bluesy stuff, sounding like Tracy Nelson running too slow on the turntable when Kindred takes her leads. It's rather like a loose late-night backroom get-together of friends running through familiar material. Since these friends are pretty good musicians, it sounds better than a jam session. But because of the informal ambience and well-trod material, including covers of "Good Shepherd," "Jesus Met the Woman at the Well," and Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry," it's not terribly exciting, either. A yet looser collection of tracks by a similar grouping of musicians, apparently cut at or around the same time by the sound of it, appeared on CD in 2002 under the name Birth, also credited to the Mel Lyman Family.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger