Myshkin's Ruby Warblers

Corvidae

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Corvidae isn't the first album by Myshkin's Ruby Warblers, a band that singer/songwriter Myshkin formed in 2001 (after having been recording as a solo artist since the early '90s). But it is a fine place to get acquainted with their moody style of folk-rock, which draws on influences ranging from jazz, cabaret, and the blues to East European gypsy music. With a name like Myshkin, it isn't surprising that the singer/songwriter (who wrote all of the songs on this 2005 release) would have some East European influences -- and when Corvidae is playing, one often thinks of the musical contributions that gypsies have made in countries like Russia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. But Myshkin is very much an American -- she grew up in the Midwest, which has attracted its share of East European immigrants over the years -- and she certainly gets plenty of creative inspiration from the United States. Jazz, in fact, is an influence throughout this 41-minute disc; dusky, haunting gems like "Caledonia," "For Mimi in Jail," "Blackberry Winter," and "The Dance" essentially fall into the folk-rock category, but their debt to the jazz-noir/torch song aesthetic is obvious. No one will accuse Myshkin of sounding like someone who doesn't have eclectic tastes; Corvidae gives the impression that within the course of several hours, she is quite capable of listening to everyone from Rickie Lee Jones to Billie Holiday to the great Romanian singer Maria Tanase (with perhaps a little Marlene Dietrich thrown in for good measure). But Corvidae, for all its risk-taking, never sounds forced or unnatural; while Myshkin is all over the place in terms of influences, her work never fails to sound totally organic on this excellent, if brief, CD.

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