Amanda Shaw

Pretty Runs Out

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Only 16 years of age, New Orleans fiddler/songwriter/singer Amanda Shaw makes an impressive debut with Pretty Runs Out, an album that runs a fairly wide gamut of musical styles but never sounds like it comes from anyplace other than her home town. The title track, which opens the album, carries with it a faint whiff of the new wave '80s (there's just a touch of Kate Bush in the melody), and the funky beats and snotty lyrics on "Brick Wall" somehow manage to sound like a French Quarter version of middle-period Talking Heads (with horns and some very greasy guitar). "I Don't Want to Be Your Friend" is a brilliant country-Cajun romantic kiss-off song written by Diane Warren, originally recorded by Cyndi Lauper, and brilliantly performed by Shaw as if it had been written just for her. "French Jig," which is not a jig, is a spare and dry Cajun instrumental with a hint of ska thrown in for extra spice. The album's highlight, though, is a slow-burning song of longing titled "Wishing Me Away"; her double-tracked fiddle solo halfway through is a gem of restrained emotion, and her close-miked vocals are a perfect balance of intimacy and power. Then the album closes with a brilliant Cajun reel set and "Easy on Your Way Out," which sounds for all the world like a parody of pompous 1970s white funk-rock. Not bad for a kid who was born in the early '90s. Highly recommended.

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