Sarah Jaffe’s debut sounds a bit like pre-More Adventurous Rilo Kiley: folksy, sparse, and more indebted to the D.I.Y. songwriter scene than the commercial coffee house fare that orchestrates montage sequences in Grey’s Anatomy. Recorded in 2008 and released two years later, it chronicles the first chapter of Jaffe’s career, collecting songs written during her teenage years as well as a sampling of recent material. Suburban Nature isn’t entirely a solo album, though; Jaffe writes the music herself, but the songs come to life thanks to her backing band, a tasteful four-piece that includes two string players and the multi-instrumentalist Robert Gomez. It’s thanks to those musicians that Jaffe is able to blaze her own trail in the crowded female folkster market, and one of Suburban Nature’s biggest strengths is the way her band frames her vocals with arrangements that are alternately minimalist and lush.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey