Black Doves is an album that sneaks up on you. Initially Amelia White's songs come off as a pleasant blending of Aimee Mann and Sam Phillips-style literate pop with Lucinda Williams' grittier Americana sound. However, the more you listen to the disc, the more it grabs hold of your attention, and by the album's end, you're only thinking about Amelia White. The album's first songs show off White's literate, artsy pop side, while the third tune, an impressive love song entitled "Windowpane," has you thinking it's a perfect combination of Sam Phillips and Lucinda Williams. The disc's momentum starts picking up with the next tune, the exquisite title track. While still in Lucinda territory, White here deftly explores the emotions of being left at home while a loved one goes off to war. Featuring some lovely singing by White, "Black Doves" soars as a highly moving effort that totally transcends its influences. But the Nashville-based performer really hits her stride on the album's homestretch. "Broke But Not Broken," a tale of struggle and survival, is a spare yet powerful effort. "Tupelo Train" and "What U Wish" also are standout numbers. The former is a torch and twang tale of the South that boasts a big thumping beat, while the latter delivers a dreamy meditation on love. "What U Wish"'s orchestral, almost Beatlesque arrangements also nicely set up White's chamber twang closer, "Lucky." These last two numbers reinforce another of the album's strengths -- the production values. Co-producers Neilson Hubbard (Garrison Starr, Matthew Ryan) and Brian Brown (Tanya Donelly, Juliana Hatfield) provide White with a rich sonic palette that never overwhelms her songs. For example, in "How Far Is Down," the keyboards cascade gently in the song's background, while the edgy organ/guitar interplay enhances "Snakes and Pushers"' sense of eeriness. These extra textures help to distinguish White from the rest of the female singer/songwriter pack, and with Black Doves she takes a confident step toward placing herself among the genre's frontrunners.
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AllMusic Review by Michael Berick