Mary Hampton

My Mother's Children

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Congratulations to Mary Hampton, whose debut album effortlessly manages to stand outside genre. It's folk inasmuch as it's all acoustic, and there's a feel of the tradition about it, even though everything is from her own pen. The opener, "Because You're Young," recalls the fragility of Lisa Germano, both in composition and execution, but from there it's a left turn into very different places, where tales of talking dogs, frozen sparrows, and islands seem faintly gothic. Even the album's lone instrumental "Meanwhile..." brings to mind other things, in this case J.S. Bach. It's all very disquieting, the product of what can only be called a unique talent with a singular world vision. It's perhaps a folk audience that will go for this, although it's all so left-field that it should also bring in those who simply love the weird and unusual. On first play it can seem a little off-putting for its very sparseness, but on repeated listenings its many charms unfold like a flower -- the multiple musical layers of "Ballad of the Talking Dog," for example. Some albums are for the short term, but My Mother's Children is a disc for the long haul.

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