Catie Curtis

Crash Course in Roses

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When folk-rockers fail, it's usually by trying to fudge the line between folk and rock: the music either fails to adequately support the lyrics or it overpowers them. Catie Curtis has found the perfect balance on her third album. She and producer Ben Wisch have created a sound that is warm, intimate, and robust, dense without being murky and crisp without being brittle. Curtis' songs sound timeless; the rolling tunefulness of "Gave Me Love" and the wistful chorus of "Fall Away" both reach out and caress you, while the Trinidadian bassline of "Stay Up All Night" pulls nicely against the mandolin and harmonica. Her singing is a little bit self-conscious; she tends to declaim the notes instead of committing to them. But her voice is sweet and gruff, and the songs are good enough that she gets away with her slightly mannered delivery. Special highlight: the drum sound and the Hammond organ part on "Gave Me Love."

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