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taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of local & state music CDs

SHANNON WHITWORTH — Water Bound

On Shannon Whitworth’s second solo album Water Bound, one gets the sense of a songwriter becoming increasingly locked in on her creative direction. As a Biscuit Burner alumna, Whitworth is steeped in old-time folk and bluegrass, and while her solo sound comes across as distinctly more contemporary, the lingering influence of being apart of such an instrumentally and traditionally focused unit remains. Though the sonic intensity is certainly toned down, the attention to detail feels as important as ever. Kenny Hutson’s ghostly lap steel fills out the empty space between Whitworth’s plush and honeyed Southern accent on “All the Same.” The Delta blues-roadhouse country fusion of “Wrong Kind of Man” is peppered with handclaps, hi-hats and shimmery swamp guitar, while Whitworth’s normally velvety cadence becomes clipped and concise. Comparisons can easily be drawn between Whitworth and classic voices like that of Shelby Lynne throughout much of the album. Elsewhere, she channels the sultriness and smokiness of Norah Jones circa The Fall on tracks like “I Got the Blues,” a doleful lament in which Whitworth finds her only comfort in the lonely bass glissandos, sparse piano taps and brushed snare half-steps. Whitworth occasionally struggles to get off the ground on some songs, however. “Am I Stranger” lacks the necessary narrative presence for a song that seems intended to be a reflective and introspective account of love gone astray. She bookends the song with a vague abridgment, but there’s simply not enough detail for the song’s message to connect to the listener. She’s been playing “Taking It Hard” in her live sets for a couple of years now, but it’s another song that just feels a little incomplete. Other songs, most noteably “Mermaid’s Song” and “Spring Is Here,” show how resonant her voice can be when paired with fully developed themes and storylines. The timing of the latter, interestingly enough, arrives as a gentle nudge for those plagued by the winter blahs, showing exactly what a compassionate and thoughtful songwriter Whitworth is at heart.

78/100

Shannon Whitworth will perform at Mack and Mack Clothing Friday night.

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