Libby Kirkpatrick

Goodnight Venus

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For her third outing, Goodnight Venus, singer/songwriter Libby Kirkpatrick shows plenty of imagination. Things like the fl├╝gelhorn on "Vaulted Heart" or the way the lead guitar on "Wake Me Up" pushes the song wide open make this a cut above the ordinary. She's obviously been affected by hearing Rickie Lee Jones -- it's evident in her swaying, slightly jazzy, vaguely slurred vocals -- and adopted some of the mannerisms to her own style. But there are worse role models to have, and Kirkpatrick has developed to the point where she's largely her own person. Working with a number of musicians allows her to add plenty of colors and textures to her songs, whether it's the cello on "Circus" or bansuri flute on "Silver Road." She proves to be an excellent producer, too, never indulging herself too much. Even her solo outing, "Jenny's Eyes," is carefully abbreviated. Her writing continues to improve, becoming more oblique and interesting, a strong woman finding her way in life, but also with an ear for low-key pop, as on "Crying." And even when it's not completely successful, such as with "Now," which tries to be a bit too epic, she's trying and learning. When she stretches herself and it does work -- which "Run" does, extremely well -- you know you're in the presence of an artist.

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