Kari Newhouse's third full-length album comes by its title honestly -- Newhouse not only wrote and performed the 11 tunes on Songs from Apartment 4, she also produced and recorded them herself in the home studio she's set up in her Portland, Oregon apartment. With the exception of the drums on "I See You," this album is 100 percent Kari Newhouse, and the tone of the music reflects the intimacy of the surroundings that gave it life. Newhouse isn't afraid to give her songs a vivid emotional urgency, but Songs from Apartment 4 is clearly music that comes from a place of honesty deep in the heart, and for all the strength of Newhouse's breathy yet soulful vocals and the subtle but thoughtfully detailed arrangements, this is music that sounds as personal as entries in a diary, and as affecting as an overheard conversation. Newhouse's themes range from the joys and sorrows of love ("Bloom," "I See You," "Take the Time") and the struggles of hope ("Sun") to hometowns both past and present ("Goodbye Detroit," "In My Town"), and as a lyricist she's literate with a strongly poetic nature, but can write intelligently without sinking into pretentiousness, and she interprets her material with intelligence and taste, bringing emotional truth to the surface without playing too strongly to the balcony. Kari Newhouse has been making records since 1997, but Songs from Apartment 4 suggests she's learned how to produce herself as well as anyone ever could, and with material and performances this good, hopefully she'll continue to turn out music as long as her landlord permits.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming