Catie Curtis

Long Night Moon

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    8
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Catie Curtis has hit two extremes on Long Night Moon: several tracks explore her feelings as the new mother of two adopted little girls, while one of the songs, "People Look Around," deals with politics and social issues on a nearly global scale. Not surprisingly, that track is the biggest and most anthemic one on the album, and also the least effective -- even as it gets your dander up and makes you feel like part of a right-thinking community, it tacitly reminds you that songs have much more power to make people feel good about themselves that they do to change the world. The real payoff comes from the songs whose frames of reference match their spheres of impact: on the patient but sweetly longing title track, Curtis waits for the arrival of her daughter; on the sharply observed "Rope Swings and Avalanches," she makes the common-sense observation that "They say if it's love you can work it out/That's the cruelest lie"; and on "Strange" she expresses a strangely joyful sort of romantic confusion over a complex and beautiful arrangement consisting of a fractured string bassline and overlapping layers of organ, mandolin, and dulcimer. "Water and Stone" is winningly simple and direct, and with "Hey California," she wryly expounds on the relative virtues of her Boston home. (If one of the women of Laurel Canyon chooses to write a response, maybe it will initiate a neo-folk East Coast/West Coast spat like the one that raged in the hip-hop communities for years -- could be fun.) All in all, this is one of Curtis' most satisfying albums, and that's saying something. Highly recommended.

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