Tara Nevins

Wood and Stone

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Tara Nevins, a member of Donna the Buffalo, released her debut solo album, Mule to Ride, in 1999, and only in 2011, 12 years later, got around to her second, Wood and Stone. It's been worth the wait, however. "Solo" may be something of a misnomer, since Wood and Stone is arguably a duo effort, with producer Larry Campbell playing multiple instruments and strongly influencing the sound. That sound is a country/folk hybrid, heavy on traditional and old-time elements, with Nevins and Campbell sometimes sawing away on fiddles for a distinctly Cajun flavor (notably on "All I Ever Needed," "You're Still Driving That Truck," and "Snowbird"). Nevins sings in a mountain twang, and she seems to feel that her throatiness requires augmenting, since she overdubs her own harmony vocals on most songs, with Campbell also providing some harmonies. The songs find her exploring various facets of romance, from criticizing a paramour to praising him, coming on to him, or pushing him away. The same sorts of arrangements get applied to the covers, such as a version of the standard "Stars Fell on Alabama" that dispenses with much of its usual melody. On the closer, Van Morrison's "Beauty of Days Gone By," Nevins doesn't bother to add harmonies, which makes her voice all that more affecting in its vulnerability. It can only be hoped that she doesn't wait another 12 years to make her third solo album.

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