Bosque Brown

Cerro Verde

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Bosque Brown -- at heart singer/guitarist Mara Miller, though a full-time band is starting to take full shape -- delivers a very personal release with Cerro Verde, written by Miller in response to the impact of Hurricane Katrina on her grandparents and their old house near the Mississippi coast. Perhaps by default such a release can only mean the most to its creator -- happily, both family and house survived the weather -- but the four solo pieces that make up this brief one-sided album, at least in its vinyl format, are good listening beyond the artist's own sphere. Essentially a family story in miniature, the songs touch on everything from its owners to the memories Miller and others had there, to moments of fear when it seemed Katrina had claimed their lives. As a performance, it's barely longer than ten minutes, all four songs simply being vocal and guitar pieces without overdubs, but to Miller's credit each of the songs has its own distinct atmosphere, her high, folk/country vocals taking on a subtly different turn for each. While "A House" sets the overall tone for Cerro Verde well enough, it's Miller's singing on "That Door" which is suddenly gripping, hitting the choruses with a soaring, dramatic swoop. The deliberate, steady pace of "Tell Her" matches the reflective feeling of Miller's voice, which is much calmer here in comparison, while "The Pain" ends Cerro Verde with a gentle lope that offsets the emotional turmoil suggested by the title.

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