After self-releasing a six-song CD in Portland, McKinley added six more tracks to the collection and released this self-titled debut in 1995 on Burnside Records. Combining folk and jazz into a torchy chamber folk, the singer/songwriter and bassist uses her dreamily seductive voice and some decent musical chops to create a truly rich and unique sound. Joining McKinley on this national debut release are musicians Steve Hale (guitar), Marty Jennings (violin), James Smith (cello), Wendy Karden (flute), and drummer/percussionist Brian Davis. A more complimentary group of players couldn't be found, as these musicians have an engaging affect on the singer's compositions that is necessarily subtle, yet well-defined. The softly swinging "Bottom of the Sea" and "One Bare Nail" are elegant standouts with their delicate changes and interwoven melodies that almost boil beneath McKinley's jazz-influenced vocals. A respectable debut, McKinley was followed up by a much stronger offering, Big Top Shop Talk, that should probably be the first purchase for new fans looking for something rich, listenable, and solidly artistic.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson