Paper Hearts

Katy Boyd

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Paper Hearts Review

by James Allen

Paper Hearts is an album that arrives with a bit of a back story, but then so does Katy Boyd herself. Boyd grew up in Northern California's Bay Area, surrounded by countercultural influences and American roots music. But in the ‘80s, early in a promising career as a folk-based singer/songwriter, she ended up moving to England in pursuit of a promised record deal that didn't come to pass. She dropped out of the music scene soon thereafter, and didn't wind up releasing her solo debut until 2010. Soon the revitalized troubadour was busy making up for lost time by unleashing the follow-up record, Paper Hearts.

You can hear the subtle, soulful blend of Boyd's American upbringing and her U.K. years in almost everything she sings over the course of Paper Hearts. Her simple-but-striking vocal style bears trace elements of both Lucinda Williams' dusty, countrified twang and Linda Thompson's cool, classy Brit-folk croon. With that kind of a voice, she might even get away with presenting subpar material, but as it happens, that's far from the case here. The tunes on Paper Hearts are clearly the product of someone who's been around the block (or the world) a time or two -- the straightforward, folk/country melodies and unfussy arrangements support lyrics that make trenchant emotional statements while avoiding both cliché and pretense. The windup is an album that's built to last, with layers that continue to reveal themselves through repeated listening.

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