On this album, Catie Curtis
' sound is a bit more raw and immediate, the arrangements more clearly centered on her acoustic guitar, and her voice seems to be roughening up a bit -- not so much in tone, but in execution. She tends to fall off more at the ends of phrases, and to quaver a little more when she sustains them. This is almost certainly an artistic choice (she's not yet old enough for it to be a function of wear and tear), and it mostly works. The songs are largely concerned with the issue of temporariness: of beauty, of love, of grace, and while they don't exactly communicate a feeling of despair, they often bring a sense of bafflement, and that works very much in their favor on tracks like "Shadowbird" and the deeply affecting piano-and-voice composition "River Wide." "Another Day on Earth" is unusually rockish, with an infectious, Hammond-driven singalong chorus and a synth rock verse. "After Hours" finds drummer Jay Bellerose
contributing some rather weird and very cool tom-tom sounds to a brooding meditation on mortality. The title track, a rather nasty little slice of class warfare, is the album's only real disappointment -- instead of demonstrating the kindness and subtlety that has characterized so much of Curtis
' work in the past, here she picks an easy social target and goes for cheap applause. Otherwise, this is an album that her growing legion of fans will enjoy very much; newcomers may want to start with her first couple of releases and work their way up to this one.