Various Artists


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Respond Review

by Kelly McCartney

One of the few recognizable names on this two-CD compilation of Boston women songwriters, the ever solid Patty Larkin starts things off with "Angels Wings" from her 1997 Perishable Fruit. Never mind the fame factor, there are some talented ladies stepping up to contribute and benefit Respond Incorporated, a non-profit organization that assists battered women and children. Although Aimee Mann is noticeably absent, check out Jules Verdone, who sounds a good bit like her. Kate Bush fans will appreciate the mandolin-infused jangle of Merrie Amsterburg, while connoisseurs of straight-ahead folk will find friends in Lori McKenna, Jess Klein, and Mary Gauthier. And if Catie Curtis is a favorite, listen closely. Not only does she toss in her own "Do Unto Others," but she also produces and sings with Linda Nawn and with Jenny Reynolds, who pays the favor forward with harmonies behind Respond producer Charan Devereaux. That's the way it goes with much of this album. Jennifer Kimball lends "Veering From the Wave," the title track from her solo debut album, as well as an appearance with Larkin. Perhaps styled after Ani DiFranco, Kris Delmhorst shines on "Weatherman," then sits in on cello and backing vocals for McKenna. Heck, even some of the support musicians can be heard on numerous tracks. Perhaps that helps keep the overall vibe as consistent as it is, though intermingling studio and live recordings makes the compilation's sonic quality a little uneven. To save the calm acoustics from falling into boring, check out "Ghost in the House," a moody piece by Laurie Geltman, "Two Boats," a peppy number driven by the lilting voice of Mary Lou Lord, and "Sad Girl," by the alternatively inclined Jen Trynin.

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