Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hello, Stranger - Catie Curtis

No longer strangers

Hello, Stranger
Artist: Catie Curtis (www.catiecurtis.com)
Label: Compass Records
Length: 11 tracks/42:11 minutes

I had never heard of Catie Curtis, but now that I have listened to Hello, Stranger, I would welcome the opportunity to hear more. There is more—nine solo recordings over a 15-year career—but I am thankful for this introduction to such a friendly voice.

Those in the know have clamored for stripped-down versions of her classics, something that captured the spirit and intimacy of her live shows. Those who enjoy the sound of string instruments don’t have to wait any longer. This is a gentle feast for the ears from some of Nashville’s finest pickers.

The highlight is a warm voice anchoring songs that range from whimsical to thought-provoking. By focusing on acoustic instruments, occasional light percussion (no drums), and unadorned vocals, this has a pleasing organic quality. It is a delightful blend heard through a variety of styles.

The title track is a rousing country duet with Mary Gauthier. “Walking On a Wire” has a relaxed feel that makes its confession of falling seem so natural.

What drew me to this recording was “Tuesday’s Dead,” the Cat Stevens gem, which is still relevant and one of the highlights.

“Dad’s Yard” is ever so soothing with its beautiful harmony. “Passing Through” is similar to a gospel song, reminding us that life is transitory. The most moving for me is “Don’t Want to Know (No Evil).” Here she sings of shunning evil and wanting to know love.

I appreciate the authenticity in songs like “100 Miles,” where Curtis wonders if she is ahead or behind. She is not afraid to engage in a little humor at her own expense. Nor is she shy about posing challenging questions. It makes it easier to get to know her.

This is a lovely initiation to the music of Catie Curtis. I hope she counts me as a friend.
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