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There's a simple, unassuming quality to Fayssoux's version of Rodney Crowell's "California Earthquake" on Early. The folk-country arrangement, a tasteful mix of acoustic guitar, dobro, bass, drums, Wurlitzer, accordion, electric guitar, and harmony, is spare and filled with open spaces. Fayssoux handles the vocal with feeling, adding a touch of country ache, but never oversinging. This simple approach quietly underpins the song, allowing the emotion to rise to the top naturally. This unassuming quality works equally well on the opener, the sadly sweet "The Blackest Crow," and the closer, a jubilant take on "Weepin' Mary." On the first, the song is underpinned by Lloyd Green's lovely steel work, and the harmony is bolstered by Emmylou Harris; on the latter, Fayssoux is joined on vocals by Sharon and Cheryl White and by mandolinist Ricky Skaggs. On occasion, Fayssoux adds variety to the overall blueprint, as when she cuts loose on the high-flying "Save It! Save It! with duet partner Peter Cooper (who also produced), and her song choices, from gospel to country to contemporary folk, generate a solid set list for Early. All of these qualities--solid songs, lively performances, and well-sung vocals--create a down-to-earth album that sounds good and that is easy to enjoy.

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