Christine Graves

Stray

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Well into her career, the third album from this Ottawa folk singer/songwriter's voice has a calm and almost chilling approach, particularly on the opening cut, "Salvation." But it's just one of the many simple and subtle songs created from much travel. Her rambling soul is most evident in the troubadour-sounding "Tin Can Marriage." "Northern Lights" is a bit more upbeat and catchy and possesses a quirky quality resembling some of Jane Siberry's music. The instrumentation grows with each song, and the lap steel touches and mandolin traces on "Island Girl" enhance the tune greatly. Each song tends to have a tremendous amount of flow within it. The Tom Waits cover, "Jockey Full of Bourbon," seems a bit forced and is an odd choice. Graves isn't afraid to do some pop-oriented tunes, and she sounds like a young Chrissie Hynde on the infectious "Surround Me," which only adds to her appeal. Graves is definitely at ease on the slower, darker material, as in "Summerlea," which features a rare duet vocal on the chorus. The best is saved for last in the reflective closer "For Granted," a smart framework backing Graves' stellar and distinctive voice.

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